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Hypocritical to lobby for undocumented Irish in US and not migrants here – TD

The comments by Fianna Fail’s Niall Collins came during a Dail debate on inclusion and combating racism.

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Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins accused the state of racism in how it handles undocumented migrants in Ireland (PA)

Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins accused the state of racism in how it handles undocumented migrants in Ireland (PA)

Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins accused the state of racism in how it handles undocumented migrants in Ireland (PA)

It is hypocritical for TDs to lobby and advocate for undocumented Irish people living in the United States and not for undocumented migrants living in Ireland, the Dail has heard.

Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins also accused the Irish State of racism on the issue.

He said: “The State is being racist in terms of not dealing with the 26,000 undocumented migrants who are living and contributing to our society and country. They may have overstayed their visa but they are now here and embedded and want to contribute to society, so we have to deal with that reality.

“We campaign for the undocumented Irish in the United States and I think we are hypocritical as a nation and as a State for not dealing with it here.”

He made the comments during a Dail debate on inclusion and combating racism in Ireland.

Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain echoed his comments.

“We have to call out Irish America about their support for the current president of the United States. I think we have to call out Irish communities in Britain who are so anti-immigrant, which is so hypocritical.”

“How can we go to the United States on St Patrick’s Day and hand over bowls of shamrocks and advocate for undocumented Irish in America and not do the same here for the 26,000 undocumented workers here in Ireland – they are vulnerable and poorly paid.”

The Dail also heard claims that social media has a “huge role” in advancing racism.

Fianna Fail TD Jim O’Callaghan said such online platforms can have a negative impact as they aid the spread of racist messages.

He said: “Globalisation and social media can have a very negative impact because it allows for racists to spread out their hate online and get into the minds of young impressionable people.

“Unfortunately, one of the consequences of social media is that people are now compartmentalised into different groups and what algorithms tells them they should read after reading a certain article. It could mean that they are brought further and further into more racist content. It is important young people are given a counter narrative.”

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Jim O’Callaghan, right, said social media has a negative impact on efforts to tackle racism (PA)

Jim O’Callaghan, right, said social media has a negative impact on efforts to tackle racism (PA)

PA

Jim O’Callaghan, right, said social media has a negative impact on efforts to tackle racism (PA)

Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins said: “I’ve contacted Facebook and numerous providers and they’re simply not equipped or prepared to deal with the prevalence and spread of racism.”

Meanwhile Green Party TD Joe O’Brien highlighted an “obvious deficiency” in the Dail debate on racism.

“We’re basically a room full of white men talking about racism, and one woman.

“We need to acknowledge that and going forward we should have a committee session where we hear from people directly and their experiences.”

Mr O’Brien also said TDs should call out other politicians who make racist comments.

“Some people in the house have used it to get into this house and that needs to be called out. Only a few weeks ago a member of the house used it in a parliamentary question to get attention and that needs to be called out.”

Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain claimed racism has been used by members of the Dail to “exert power”.

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Green TD Joe O’Brien said the Dail needs to hear from those who have experienced racism (Brian Lawless/PA)

Green TD Joe O’Brien said the Dail needs to hear from those who have experienced racism (Brian Lawless/PA)

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Green TD Joe O’Brien said the Dail needs to hear from those who have experienced racism (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said: “It is deeply disappointing when people in this house use racism to promote fear and use language to punch down. Racism is about power and sometimes trying to isolate a group which is not powerful because you can.

“We have TDs in this house who say things like asylum-seekers are freeloaders, blaggards and that asylum seekers need to be de-programmed.

“We have people in this house who said asylum-seekers are here to sponge off the system.”

“We have two members of a governing party who have been on the wrong side of anti-Traveller literature controversies – one of them sits in Cabinet. We had a Fine Gael councillor a number of years ago who said he would not deal with black Africans.”

Justice and Equality Minister Charlie Flanagan told the Dail that the country needs to face up to the fact that racism occurs in Ireland.

He warned: “Racism is insidious and is present to some degree in every society, including here in Ireland.

“Recognising this terrible reality is the first step in combating it. We need to face up to the fact that racism does occur in Ireland. We need to understand better how prevalent it is and what its impacts are. And we need to generate effective strategies for tackling it.

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