My concern is with BAME community after Gregory Campbell remarks

A letter from Councillor Malachai O’Hara:
Letter to the editorLetter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I am not surprised by the remarks of Gregory Campbell MP nor his subsequent failure to apologise, but they have made my blood boil this week.

Going by previous form, his party will make excuses for his words and the distress he has caused.

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It would seem that DUP MPs swan off to Westminster to do as they please, with zero accountability from the party leadership back in Belfast.

I couldn’t begin to attempt to decipher the logic of a man who would settle down to watch Songs of Praise on a Sunday evening and break into a social media tirade about the numbers of black people taking part.

My concern is with the members of the BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) community. How bruising the comments must have been for the BAME people that live in the same streets as us, who work alongside us, whose kids play football and GAA in the same clubs as our kids, go to the same schools with us and are friends with our kids and nieces and nephews.

Let’s face the reality that racism in endemic in our society. The policing of the Black Lives Matter protest last Spring highlighted that our police service has some length to go in terms of race relations and the recent attack on the Belfast Multi-Cultural Centre showed the dangerous, volatile racist element present in our city.

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From October 2019 to September 2020, there were 631 racist incidents and crimes reported to police across Belfast and 1,464 across all of Northern Ireland. These are just the reported incidents and we know there is an under reporting to PSNI.

To be frank, I’m fed up with racism in all its manifestations. I’m fed up with the excuses and fed up with the fact that Brexit and the growth of right-wing extremism have emboldened racists and brought them and their extremist views into mainstream discourse.

Gregory Campbell has a right to free speech, but he has no right to pollute the public sphere with his rants.

Irrespective of our background, religion or ethnicity it’s time we called racism out wherever it originates from.

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Councillor Malachai O’Hara (he/him), Castle Electoral Area Green Party Group Leader

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