There were demonstrations across France yesterday, Thursday, in memory of young anti-fascist Clém
Over 2,500 people marched in a memorial march for Toyosi Shitta-Bey
Photo: Paula Geraghty
Big anti racist march for Toyisi
Over 2,500 people marched in a memorial march for Toyosi
Shitta-Bey, the 15 year old from Tyrellstown who was murdered last week.
A sizeable contingent of mainly black teenagers led the
march and stewarded it along the way.
The march was billed as a peaceful commemoration but there
was a large police presence.
Speakers at the march consisted of local community leaders
at the start and Jack O'Connor, SIPTU leader and ICTU President. O'Connor said
that everyone living in Ireland originally came from migrant families – the
only difference was how long ago they had settled.
Speakers at the end of the march were drawn mainly from
political parties, including the Green Party junior minister, Ciaran Cuffe,
who presides over deportations. Unfortunately, there was no speaker from the People
Before Profit Alliance.
The march was an impressive display of solidarity which
mobilised a portion of the black population of Dublin 15 and a large contingent
of the wider anti-racist movement
It was an important response as some religious leaders had
opposed the march on the grounds that it was too political. The implication was
that if the culture of racism was named then this might lead to more hostility.
But this is to ignore reality. Racism has always been
prevalent in Irish society and, as a speaker from the Chinese community put it,
it existed long before migrants arrived. In the past it was mainly directed at
Racism is more likely to breed in a recession if it is not
confronted. The more that racist abuse and racist jokes are allowed to go
unchallenged, the more the poison spreads.
One element, however, was played down on the march – the
connections between levels of racism and the nature of the Irish state. This
became apparent when a group of black teenagers began chanting at the police to
stop harassing them.
Yet the sentiment about the culpability of the state for
racism was not echoed strongly from the platform. Even the Socialist Party MEP
Joe Higgins argued that the solution to racist verbal abuse was to report the
matter to the authorities.
Yet the reality is that the Irish state is deeply implicated
in fostering a racist culture.
It has consistently treated migrants as economic units who
could help the economy in a boom – but it has done everything to prevent these
same migrants enjoying the benefits of family re-unification.
It has denied black fathers of Irish born children the right
to remain in this country.
It has run extensive deportation campaigns, particularly
In every way it can, it tries to suggest migrants should
now consider going ‘home’ – now that the boom is over.
The magnificent solidarity march raised the spirits of
everyone involved – but over the coming period we will also need to confront
the deeper roots of racism in Irish society.
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