Racism is in the news again in Ireland. Not only has the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) uncovered a high incidence of racism against migrants and people of colour, racism has also been reported widely in the Irish media and – importantly – was highlighted by Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter in his speech welcoming new citizens last week. ‘The history of this State is now your history and the narrative of your life is now part of our history’ said the Minister to his delighted audience, and I wondered how a person can acquire another people’s history.
Racism, according to the Minister, is ‘attitudes based on hatred and ignorance’ which ‘have no place in our society’, rather a system of categorisation and discrimination. As the seasoned politician he is, Shatter told his captive audience, some of whom, according to The Irish Times, shouted with joy at their newly bestowed citizenship (the cost of which, as I have written here before, is the highest in the Western world; but why be petty?), about his work on a European level to highlight and combat racism. He did this, he said, ‘because failure to live up to the values of the EU in one part of Europe is something that affects all of us’. As if (fortress) Europe itself is not based on systemic racism. Read more