Friday, 19 June 2009

Racism draws focus of the world to this part of Ireland

On Wednesday morning I visited the O-Zone Leisure Centre in the Ormeau Park. I was there with Martin McGuinness and the party's representative in Balmoral Vincent Parker. Vincent, who is a member of the south Belfast DPP, as well as the head of Sinn Fein's Equality and Human Rights Department, had spent some time the previous night at the City Church in the south of the city with those families forced to flee their homes.

I didn't really expect, if you could even prepare yourself for it, for the scene in the main sports hall of the O-Zone. Strangely it could have passed for a typical 'Family Fun Day'. The kids were running around laughing, giggling with their parents, getting handed juice and sweets, the older people mingled, talking and chatting, sharing stories and the latest sceal.

What strikes you fairly soon is that this wasn't a 'fun day' by any means. Families had fled to the centre after a number of attacks on their homes by, what Martin McGuinness described as 'racist criminals'. He was right, that's exactly what they are; people with no consideration for people, for families, for communities or for life.

I watched as Martin held a 5 day old baby girl, Fernanda, in his arms, a child born in our city but so early in life subjected to such hatred her family had to flee their homes.

The eyes of the world are upon us, for all the wrong reasons.

What is always clear though is the dogged determination of the Irish people to rally to the support of those in need. We have been subjected to the slogans of 'No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish'. More so than most we, as a people, have felt the cruel hand of intimidation and discrimination.

What must happen now, is that we as a people must stand united and face down the scourge of racism; we must face down the results of this racism like what we witnessed over recent times, but more importantly we must face down, root out and eradicate the source of this racism. The notion that one group is better, superior or more entitled than others. The notions that one section of people have more rights than another; we must continue to do what the deputy First Minister began on Wednesday morning, we must face racism and prejudice where and when it raises it head and we must say to those responsible that they will be rejected by the people, whether it be racism, sectarianism, prejudice. 

The PSNI must take this matter seriously, they must deal with those responsible, regardless of the repercussions it might potentially have within a certain community. Racism is commonly described as a cancer and that is exactly what it is.

I hope as a citizen of Beal Feirste, that the statutory agencies will act as decisively as the people of the city and do what they can and must to help assist those people subjected to this hatred.

Beirigi Bua! 


  1. Good stuff. I would be interested for your comments on how Sinn Féin can move forward in helping to tackle these reactionary elements.

  2. Hi just wondering if yourself or Vincent Parker could repond to this piece I wrote on the recent incidents in South Belfast.

    I now understand Vincent was at the rally on the Lisburn Road and it would be great if you or he could write a positive response to the article. Showing how we are working with progressive forces across communities. Many of us down south are unaware of the positive, progressive cross community work that is being done up there. Go raibh maith agat.