Sinn Fein Councillor has welcomed the passing of his motion at last month’s County Council meeting on racism.
In a reply to the Councillor’s motion, the Council told him that there was an imminent launch of a new Louth Meath Migrant Strategy 2019-22 which would hopefully address some of Cllr McGeough’s concerns about the rise of racism in the county particularly in the form of graffiti.
Cllr McGeough said “Thank you for the response and I look forward to the launch of the new Louth Meath Migrant Integration Strategy 2019-22 due later this month. I just hope it is strong enough to deal with the ignorance of a small number of people in this county.
“Since May this year there have been 4 incidents of racist graffiti in Ardee and in July the Gardaí said they was an indication of ‘extreme right-wing groups or persons resident in the locality’ and they have stepped up patrols in the area.
“I myself was targeted by these ring-wing groups and faced a campaign of online abuse by supporters of this right wing extremist Party including a video naming me by their so-called party leader. It wasn’t nice.
After the second graffiti incident which took place on a privately owned fence I took a paintbrush myself and went out and painted over it because I didn’t want the home owners to put themselves at risk after what happened to me.
“The latest incident took place just over a week ago and again, it fell to the decent people of Ardee to scrub it off including 2 young lads from Direct Provision emergency accommodation. They are a credit to the community in Ardee.
“Racism needs to be challenged at every level and it needs to be stamped out before it gets a hold. That lack of education can be challenged by diversity programmes/work-shops that will promote awareness of the problem and equip people with the tools to deal with it or address it as it happens.
“The Irish people are a good people, what we are talking about here is a small minority but they are like a cancer, if it isn’t dealt with it will spread.
“There is an excellent project on facebook at the minute called ‘Black and Irish’ which highlights and celebrates the identity of Black Irish people and seeks to tell people of their experiences, struggles and successes. Some of their stories are heart breaking and very upsetting to hear, the level of racism they have had to put up with.
“Our hate crime legislation needs to be strengthened. We need to send a strong message to the country that we have a zero tolerance for racism and those who carry out a hate crime will be dealt with and punished accordingly. This Council needs to send a strong message to our legislators from all Parties that our current hate crime laws are too weak and need to be rectified as soon as possible before it’s too late and the issue is out of control. We need to be pro-active instead of re-active on issues that we can see coming down the road.”
At this week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, Cllr McGeough again raised the issue with teh Gardaí seeking an update. They assured him that it was on their radar but so far there had been no arrests although they were aware of the rise in the issue and had stepped up patrols in the area.