Cork to stand against racism
The “real voice of Ireland” will be represented at an anti-racism rally in Cork city this weekend according to Leeside activists.
The rally, organised by Cork Says No to Racism, will begin at 2pm this Saturday outside the City Library on Grand Parade and will mark the United Nations’ world anti-racism day.
The theme of the march this year is to highlight Cork as a diverse and inclusive city and to demand housing and healthcare for all.
Speaking to the Cork Independent, rally coordinator Joe Moore said this year’s event, the 9th in a row to be held in Cork, possesses an added sense of urgency considering the recent “rise of the far-right and the targeting of asylum seekers and refugees”.
“We're calling on the people of Cork to come out in force this year to send a clear message that Cork is a welcoming city, an open city, a diverse city, as opposed to the hatred and division that's being spread by the far-right.”
Mr Moore said he believes Ireland’s reputation for being a warm and welcoming country has not been badly damaged by recent far-right activity, but that a rise in individual racists attacks “gives oxygen to that small minority who are that way of thinking”.
He continued: “I think the rally in Dublin on 18 February really put things into perspective. Their people (far-right protesters) at most will maybe have 200.”
Joe continued: “I mean, there were tens of thousands (anti-racisms supporters) on the streets of Dublin that day. That’s the real Ireland.”
According to Youth Project Worker at the Cork Migrant Centre, Fionnuala O’Connell, the sound of the far-right can “easily be drowned out”.
Ms O’Connell, who was born in South Africa and grew up between Ireland and Liberia, said she doesn’t expect any counter protest by far-right groups on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t be expecting any protest, but anything is possible at this stage. It’s not going to stop us from doing what we always do; turning up, having fun, connecting with people.”
Through her time at Cork Migrant Centre, Ms O’Connell says the preconception of Ireland held by those wishing to come here has changed somewhat in recent years.
She said: “Ireland has great advertising, great tourism, the home of a hundred thousand welcomes, so that marketing has been pushed and it works.
“People come here thinking people will understand, but I think now that perspective is changing because you can come here from a country where you feel unsafe, you arrive and you’re not greeted, you’re not welcome.
“The bottom line for me is to just teach kindness. A lot of racism takes place in schools by teachers and because the schools don’t have a great anti-racism policy, a lot of it is just swept under the rug and disregarded.”
Garda hate crime figures
Saturday’s rally coincides with the publishing this week of figures on hate crimes and hate-related incidents by An Garda Síochána. A total of 617 discriminatory motives were recorded in 2022, up from 483 in 2021.
The most prevalent discriminatory motive was race (32%), followed by sexual orientation (22%) and nationality (21%).
Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, whose remit includes the Garda National Diversity and Integration Unit, said: “An Garda Síochána recognises that hate crimes have a huge impact on victims, specifically because they are targeted because of a characteristic of who they are. These crimes also have a significant impact on wider communities and society.”