O’Donoghue calls for multicultural integration


Irish people must embrace people from different races and cultures who have been drawn to the country by the economic boom, the Minister for Justice said today.

Mr John O'Donoghue was speaking at the opening of an anti-racism conference charged with taking the first steps in drawing up a National Action Plan against Racism.

He told delegates - who included politicians, trade unionists, Travellers, charities and police: "Our economic success is due to our successful integration into the global economy.

"The challenge facing Irish society is to integrate the significant minority born outside Ireland, coming from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

"For some in the majority community, the pace of change in recent years has been unexpected, bewildering and unsettling. Some have expressed fears and anxieties," he said. "Some others, unfortunately, have reacted - to people of colour in particular - in a hostile and resentful manner".

He said the Government last year paid grants totalling €635,000 to 300 community projects in 23 counties under the Know Racism.

But a protest by Travellers' groups outside the conference, at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, threatened to overshadow Mr O’Donoghue's address.

They were protesting about a law passed by the Dáil yesterday that would leave Travellers who refused to move on from unauthorised sites within 24 hours of a warning facing sentences of up to one month in jail and a €3,000 fine.

The law, described as "racist" by many within the Traveller community, is going before Seanad later today. Mr O'Donoghue is to meet the Irish Traveller Movement over its fears.