‘Differences should be celebrated’: Chu gives speech at anti-racism rally

Lord Mayor of Dublin was speaking at event in Smithfield on eve of her wedding

Hundreds of people turned out for an anti-racism rally in Smithfield on Saturday. The event was organised by Le Chéile, an alliance of public figures and social justice groups that aims to combat the far-right in Ireland. Video: Le Chéile, Ronan McGreevy

 

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu broke off her final wedding preparations to make an impassioned speech against racism.

Ms Chu is due to marry her long-term partner, Green Party TD Patrick Costello, on Sunday at the Mansion House where she has been living for the past year.

She had a message for the far-right groups that they had not succeeded in her term of office in deterring her.

“We don’t care how hard you come at us. We will still be standing and that is what I am going to say to all our future generations.”

She turned up wearing her chain of office at the Le Chéile anti-racism rally on Saturday in Smithfield. Several hundred people turned up to the event which was addressed by a variety of anti-racism speakers.

Ms Chu said her mother, Stella, who is from Hong Kong, told her to come and speak at the rally as racism was such an important issue.

Ms Chu said her mother arrived as a migrant in Ireland 45 years ago “as a dishwasher and a cleaner” and though she was subjected to racism she opted to “keep her head down and keep going”.

“Those days are gone,” she said to applause. “We are an island of 12 per cent migrants. We are an Ireland that is diverse and different. Those differences should be celebrated.

“If her daughter can become Lord Mayor of Dublin, any person in this country can become anything and we need to encourage them for that. We will be continually fighting for our rights.”

She put her chain of office on disabilities campaigner Sophia Mulvany (11) who is in a wheelchair.

Ms Mulvany told the meeting that Ireland needs “diversity not division. My wheelchair enables me. It is society that can disable us all.”

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly told the rally there was no “both sides” to the issue of race.

“We will not tolerate anybody trying to ‘both sides’ this. Anyone in any centre-right party who think they can court these far-right people and use them to attack the left, they need to give their head a shake because that is not how this works,” she said.

“We need to stand together. They are standing in the by-election in Dublin Bay South. Do not vote for these people, do not platform them, do not give them an opportunity and when they come out and attack the left, do not use that as an opportunity to put forward more right-wing views.

“We are sending a powerful message that they are not welcome on our streets. We will not give our streets to the far-right. We will not give them our attention, our time. We will shut them down with our positive message of diversity.”

Malawian-born activist Ellie Kisyombe, who came to Ireland in 2010, said: “This is my country and this will still be my country in 10 years. This is the country my kids will live and my grandchildren. Don’t tell me to go back to where I come from because I belong right here.”