Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A Long Way to Go

© Joe ÓNéill 2009

The late Bob Doyle, anti-fascist, who served in the 15th International Brigade on behalf of the Spanish republic. Seen here at the unveiling of the Belfast monument to his comrades in ‘Writers Square’ in 2008. Bob passed away in February. The last living Irishman to have served in the Brigade.

No pasarán!

They Shall Not Pass!

On the same day that British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was lecturing the Mullahs of Iran on the finer points of democracy, a mob of neo-nazis in Belfast were demonstrating the finer points of intimidation and racism, to immigrant Romanian families, the youngest only 5 days old.

More than 25 Romanian families, comprising over 130 persons, were forced from their homes Tuesday night, close to the Loyalist “Village” neighbourhood, in Belfast. As anti-racist demonstrators held a rally at a local church Tuesday evening in support of the families, they were attacked by bottle-throwing youths shouting racist slogans.

After having spent Tuesday night in that church hall, fearing for their safety, the families collected what little belongings they could carry this morning, and were resettled in a leisure centre in the east of the city.

Condemnation from all sections of the community quickly followed, including, the newly elected Mayor of Belfast, Naomi Long, who visited the families this morning, and First Minister, Martin McGuinness, and Jeffrey Donaldson, MP MLA, who met with the families at the leisure centre.

The attacks were the lead story on the BBC national lunchtime television news, and will no doubt by this time have reached a worldwide audience on the BBC World Service network.

The Northern Ireland Executive will face a formidable challenge in countering this kind of publicity. There have been countless trade missions to the United States and other countries, to portray the current Northern Ireland political climate as one that has left its troubled past behind.

The substitution of the sound of the bomb and the bullet, for that of the tramp of the Jackboot, will not be considered progress by foreign investment, and outside venture capital. The community as a whole, and especially, the community wherein these racist reside, have to make their voices heard against racism in our midst. For the sake of all our dignity, not the least, that of our fellow European citizens from Romania, this cannot be allowed to stand.

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