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Ireland to appoint senator from minority community

The next Taoiseach has been urged to appoint someone from a minority community to the Seanad.

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin made the call during a Dáil debate on racism where he said that it would be a strong message to appoint someone from the minority communities to the upper house "rather than party political hack".

"How powerful would it be to have somebody from the black community or the Traveller community in Ireland sitting in the Seanad," Mr Ó Ríordáin told TDs.

The Dublin Bay North TD used his speech to criticise deputies in the current Dáil who have in the past referred to asylum seekers as "free-loaders, blackguards and hoodlums" and that they need to be "deprogrammed'.

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin made the call during a Dáil debate on racism. Image credit

He criticised two current Fine Gael TDs who, he said, in the past were "on the wrong side of controversies" about anti-Traveller sentiment in their campaign literature.

Mr Ó Ríordáin also criticised Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for supporting the 2004 referendum on citizenship, which limited the constitutional right to Irish citizenship of individuals born on the island of Ireland to the children of Irish citizens.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin also criticised the 2004 referendum on the 27th amendment to the Constitution describing it as a "racist act".

Opening the debate, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the government was working on new legislation on hate speech and hate crime, saying existing laws were not adequate.

"It has been clear for some time that this has not been sufficient to deter or sufficiently respond to crime in which the victim is targeted because of a perpetrator’s hate," he said.

Mr Flanagan said there had been a broad public consultation and that officials in the Department are now preparing legislative proposals.

Several TDs criticised the Direct Provision system for accommodating asylum seekers with Independent TD Denis Naughten saying it was “inhumane” and amounted to “institutional abuse”.

Debate hears call for new Seanad to include people of colour and TravellersDebate hears call for new Seanad to include people of colour and Travellers. Image credit Ireland Global News

Green Party TD Joe O'Brien used his time to read statements of people who had experienced racist abuse in Ireland into the Dáil record. He opened his remarks by noting there was a "deficiency" in the debate on racism by virtue of the fact he was speaking in a room full of white men.

Mr O'Brien claimed that some TDs used racism to get elected in the last general election.

"There are certainly some people in this House not here today from what I can tell who have used it to get into this House and that needs to be called out," he said.

The Dublin Fingal TD did not identify any deputy in his remarks but went onto say: “Only a couple of weeks ago a member of this House used it in a parliamentary question to get attention and that needs to be called out.”


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