27 April 2000 Edition

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Nigerians march against racism


A week ago, a 16-year-old Nigerian, who is in this country on his own seeking asylum, was dealt a savage blow across the head whilst queuing for chips in his local chipper in Summerhill, Dublin. He was taken to hospital and received stitches across his head. Nobody was arrested and there was no evidence of any enquiries being made by local gardaí based at Fitzgibbon Street.

The incident brought to a head the frustration and rage felt by the refugee immigrant community over the persistent racial abuse they have endured. The next evening, Thursday, 20 April, over 60 Nigerians marched in protest to Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station and then on to O'Connell Street. Fitzgibbon Street has a particularly poor record in following up complaints made by the coloured community.

The march came together almost spontaneously. Rosanna Flynn of the Residents Against Racism Campaign, who supported the march, said: ``It is sadly reminiscent of London, where the Asian community found their only defence against racist attack and abuse was to organise. It is a sign of what is to come as long as the government continues its present racist policies.

``The government is creating racial hatred all across the state with talk of `bogus' and `illegal' asylum seekers, and its policies of flotels, canvas pavilions, `direct provision', and `dispersal', without any provision for services or integration into the community.'' The government persists in treating the accommodation needs of asylum seekers in separation from the accommodation needs of 100,000 households in the 26 Counties, who are all looking for housing, as if the 7,000 asylum seekers were to blame for the housing crisis.''

``This completely unprovoked attack is extremely worrying and underpins what Sinn Féin have been saying about the asylum policies of the present government - that they are based on intolerance and do nothing but add to the atmosphere of racism that has grown from the mishandling of the issue from day one,'' said Dublin Sinn Féin Councillor Larry O'Toole.

``Some sections of the media must also hold their hands up and admit that inflammatory headlines falsely telling people of a flood of `bogus' asylum seekers or the country being overrun are directly linked to these racist attacks.

``A country whose own emigrants bore the brunt of racism in England and elsewhere should not make the same mistakes and let racism take root in society. Racism must be challenged in the workplace, in football grounds, in the pubs and elsewhere - it should not tolerated for one second.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1