Scapegoats required

Only Asylum Seekers Need Apply!

In the past few months, there has been an upsurge of attacks on asylum-seekers and refugees. Politicians worried about their re-election chances and about losing their place on the Dáil Éireann Gravy Train have led the attacks, unashamedly targeting vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees. Physical attacks including the vicious murder of the Chinese youth Zhao Liu Tao have resulted.

These politicians have linked Asylum-Seekers to all sort of problems - hospital waiting lists, housing waiting lists, even 'un-Irish' activities to do with the food they eat. In one outrageous attack, by Cork's millionaire TD Noel O'Flynn, a small group of asylum-seekers were virtually accused of almost taking over part of Cork City. Flynn and others like him have decided that there are votes to be had in blaming asylum-seekers. They are doing what politicians always do - finding a scapegoat.

Everyone knows that there are huge problems to do with the Celtic Tiger boom. The profits and windfall have gone in one main direction - to those who are already are wealthy. Across the board in recent years

Most of us are working harder, for longer, and under more difficult terms than we have ever been. The likes of Flynn in Cork or Callely in Dublin know this, but like true politicians they are cynical and greedy to be re-elected. They have no qualms about pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

The upshot of this new situation is that it will lead to more violence against Asylum-Seekers and refugees. For example in Cork, one radio station - 96 FM - and its sidekick 'freebie' newspaper Inside Cork - have given vast amounts of airplay and column inches to Flynn and another local politician, Joe O'Callaghan, to attack asylum-seekers. Clearly this radio station has taken a decisions to highlight and target asylum-seekers. On the matter of corruption in City Hall, it is noticeably silent.

What can be done? Racists are gaining a lot of confidence from recent events. A climate where 'mainstream' politicians are 'talking racist' talk will inevitably lead to more violent attacks. To do something about the issue is really about CONFRONTING these racist politicians (and radio stations and newspapers). If there is one thing they hate it is being challenged. There is a need also however to move beyond the simplistic notions that 'the current problem' is just about a 'need for more tolerance'. This is not the situation that we face with this current upsurge in racism. On the contrary, politicians like Flynn and others know that this matter is all about power and wealth and who continues to control it. To fight racism right now we must also draw attention on the real problems in this country - most of us have little say and little power. The big decisions, the ones that make a difference in our lives, are taken by a small elite - in the interest of bankers, investors and big business.

In this sort of environment - where many of us feel powerless - racism thrives. Fighting racism now has to be about fighting against the way this society is organised - how it's structured, how decisions are made. We can defeat racism but we must be prepared to fight it wherever it rears it ugly and divisive head.

What You Can Do

We all come across racism in our day to day lives - at work, school, college, around where we live. Believe it or not, this is the best place to begin the fight against racism. Here are some practical things that anyone can do

Kevin Doyle


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This edition is No69 published in March 2002

Workers Solidarty 69 cover