7TH FEBRUARY 2013
A hard hitting report into far-right and loyalist attacks against Irish community marches/parades in Liverpool during 2012 makes a series of recommendations to combat the rise of anti-Irish racism and support Irish community organisations in dealing with intolerance and bigotry. The wide ranging recommendations aimed at statutory and non-statutory organisations including Merseyside Police, Merseyside’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Local government politicians and the Labour/Trade Union Movement ask that they not ignore this issue, as to do so emboldens fascists and racists, and ensures that the Irish community will continue to be targeted in this way in the foreseeable future.
The recommendations include:
- Irish community parades/marches in Liverpool since the 1990’s have been legal and peaceful, and have allowed Irish people in the city to express themselves both culturally, socially and politically in an inclusive manner that almost always involves broader sections of the community.
- The rights of the Irish community to assemble and organise lawful and peaceful parades/marches should be defended in the face of threats, attacks and intimidation by far-right groups and members of the loyalist/Orange community.
- No community in Liverpool should be subject to racist or sectarian abuse, threats or intimidation. Merseyside Police should be fully resourced to deal which such crime and recognise anti-Irish racism as a real issue facing members of the Irish community in general, especially when participating in Irish community marches/parades.
- Establish a specific consultative forum between Merseyside Police/Police and Crime Commissioner and members of the Irish community & Irish groups/organisations in the City to allow dialogue and feedback on the experience of Policing & the Irish community.
- The lack of proper reporting and analysis of attacks by the far-right and loyalists upon Irish community parades/marches by the local media, including the Liverpool Echo Newspaper and BBC Radio Merseyside, ensures that Far-right organisations and members of the Loyalist/Orange community are never properly held to account or challenged on their often violent opposition to Irish events.
- Confidence within the Irish community can be improved by a more robust challenge to Far-right organisations and the Loyalist/Orange community by both Merseyside Police, local political representatives and local media when attacks are made against Irish community parades/marches.
- When statutory and non-statutory bodies update their employees in cultural awareness, that must include an Irish dimension, including knowledge of anti-Irish racism and how it manifests itself and impacts on Irish people. Use should be made of Cairde na hEireann Liverpool’s policy on anti-Irish racism (see appendix).
- The far-right and members of the Loyalist/Orange community highlight increased Police costs surrounding Irish community parades/marches in an attempt to pressure both Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council into banning ‘IRA’ marches, while ignoring the fact that it has been the attacks and threats by the far-right and the loyalist/Orange community in the first place that have led to these increased costs.
- A shared view by the Labour and Trade Union Movement across Merseyside must be developed that see’s these attacks by the far-right and members of the loyalist/Orange community as being racist in nature, an attempt to drive the Irish community off the streets of Liverpool and not in any way linked to a so called re-emergence of ‘religious sectarianism’ in the city. This view must also include the acknowledgement that attacks upon Irish community parades/marches are part of an over-arching plan by the far-right to attain supremacy of the streets, eliminating at a street level anything that it sees as being ‘un-British’ and ‘unpatriotic’ and a return to electioneering when sufficient activists and support is developed and nurtured.
The report launch yesterday saw speakers Mary Hickman, Professor of Irish Studies, Centre for Irish Studies, St Mary’s University College, London, link far-right attacks in the context of the shared experience of the Irish community with Muslims in this country and the rise of islamaphobia, while Paul Jenkins, North West Regional Organiser for Unite Against Fascism, profiled the Far-right, its links to loyalism and its many manifestations in recent years.