Monday, April 24, 2006


North's politicians unite to battle bigotry

Well done, sir I was pleased to learn that nationalist and unionist politicians in NI, among them the SDLP's Sean Farren (pictured left), are to travel to Scotland to learn how First Minister Jack McConnell's administration is tackling religious and racial bigotry.

SDLP Assembly member Sean Farren confirmed a plan for members of his party to team up with the Ulster Unionists in a campaign to tackle prejudice in Northern Ireland as his party hosted a conference on the issue in Belfast today.

The former Stormont Finance Minister said:

"Today's event which will have a contribution from Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson is designed to see what politicians on both sides of the divide can do to tackle sectarianism and racism.

"We very much believe that sectarianism and racism are two sides of the one coin.

"They are motivated by the same type of prejudices, ignorance and stereotyping.

"We are planning to work with the Ulster Unionists to tackle this problem and we are planning a visit in the near future to Scotland to learn from their experiences in tackling racism and religious bigotry in their part of the world.

"We are also talking about another event in the autumn involving the SDLP and Ulster Unionists."

This is welcome news. Sectarianism is a problem that needs to be tackled and this can only be achieved by the parties in NI uniting together to condemn it. You will remember I interviewed Sean Farren back in March, which you can read here, and when I asked him if he could change three things about Irish society what would he change, the first thing he said was:

"There is one thing above all others that I would want to change, indeed want to eliminate. It is sectarianism. Sectarian attitudes are very deepset and these exist South as well as North and act as a poison in our relationships. Politicians have a serious obligation to work towards their elimination. These attitudes are not the preserve of any one social class, one religious denomination or one political party but are to found throughout our society. Since sectarianism is another version of racism it shares all the characteristics of that disease."

It would seem Mr Farren does have a sincere desire to rid society of sectarianism and for that I commend him as well as the Ulster Unionists.


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