Euro election candidates asked to sign pledge against ‘hate speech’

Immigrant Council says targeting of minority groups has no place in Irish politics

Candidates for next year's European Parliament elections have been asked to sign a pledge not to use hate speech or to unfairly target minority groups during their campaigns.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said hate speech had " no place in Irish politics".

The council asked political parties and independent candidates to sign a commitment “to keep extremism out of all debates and ensure that no community is being unfairly targeted for the continuing economic difficulties”.

Its appeal follows recent comments by European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström that populist parties all over the EU were “gaining ground using rhetoric which is harmful to minorities”.

Voters must register for the elections by November 25th, with the poll take place next May.

Denise Charlton, chief executive of the Immigrant Council said there was an opportunity for candidates from all sides "commit from the outset that hate speech and racism have no part to play in the debate in Ireland".

“ In protocols we are producing today we are also asking politicians to ensure the continuing economic difficulties are not wrongly blamed on migrant communities or other minorities.

“ The emergence of parties with Nazi views and the main-streaming of the policies of the far right into main-stream politics in other European countries is a warning which our political leaders cannot ignore,” she said.

Ms Charlton asked all party leaders to commit to sending a “consistent and clear message to reject racism” and to condemn any campaign materials or statements that might incite hatred.

They should also use “appropriate and inclusive language and words” when referring to people of different ethnic backgrounds.

“ In addition each candidate will be asked to engage with all migrant communities throughout the campaign.”

Speaking at the Fundamental Rights conference in Vilnius last week, Ms Malmström, said that rather than defend the contributions made by migrants and minorities in the EU, politicians too often joined “populist parties in blaming minorities for strains on their social security systems, for problems in their healthcare systems or for high unemployment”.

Some leading politicians had been “more directly xenophobic”.

The commissioner noted that in January this year, at the informal EU Council in Dublin, interior ministers had discussed the need to take action to counter intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia.

“ In March, member states wrote to the commission, encouraging us to take steps to safeguard fundamental values in the EU. In June, the council adopted conclusions calling for more work to be done in this field.”