Senator Mooney’s comments reveal weaknesses in our legislation and leadership on racism
The Irish Network Against Racism voices its concerns at the discriminatory comments by Senator Paschal Mooney that he chooses not to use non national taxi drivers.  His comments come at a time when racism is a serious issue for taxi drivers, threatening their safety and ability to earn a living.
Catherine Lynch, Director, said ‘the duty of elected representatives is to represent everyone irrespective of their background.  It is of great concern when politicians make racist comments. When our leaders discriminate, they sent the message to the public that this kind of behaviour is okay.”
“It is well known that racism is a real problem for taxi drivers, who are in a vulnerable position. Numerous racist incidents are reported to us and this is an issue already highlighted by the media. Taxi drivers have the right to try to earn a living and to do this in safety.  Comments like Senator Mooney’s add fuel to the fire and must be taken seriously.’
The Network has published an Anti Racism Political Protocol which all political parties have endorsed. The protocol, established in 2001, has played an important role in ensuring that politics have been conducted in such a way that they do not incite hatred or prejudice on the grounds of ‘race’, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin, religious belief and membership of the Traveller Community.  Ms Lynch went on to say “Fianna Fail have signed the protocol and we expect accountability from them and all parties.”
The Network has been long calling for more effective legislation on racism, including a review of the current incitement to hatred legislation. The fact that some politicians continue to make discriminatory comments about ethnic minorities is further evidence of the lack of awareness or adequacy of the legislation.
As the Irish Coordination for the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), we are all too aware of an increase in racism within political discourse across Europe. While in some notable countries, this has manifested through a clear rise in extremism, in other countries we hear such comments coming from the mainstream.  If politicians’ racist comments go unchecked, we may face a similar situation here in Ireland.
For further information, contact Catherine Lynch on 087 2507942 or
The Irish Network Against Racism is a national network of civil society organisations working collectively to address racism in Ireland and beyond.  We are the national coordination for European Network Against Racism. 
24 January 2013