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Charities and community groups pen open letter to politicians urging them not to use 'hate speech'

Groups including Amnesty International Ireland have called for politicians to avoid hate speech during their campaigns.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

MORE THAN TWENTY community groups and organisations have penned an open letter calling for politicians to ensure “ill-informed, divisive and hugely damaging language” is avoided during election campaigns. 

Some 29 groups including Amnesty International Ireland, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, and the Irish Refugee Council published a letter today pointing to the “real consequences” of hate speech during election campaigns. 

“Candidates may attempt to win votes by hurting people and dividing communities; it’s up to all of us, including the media and political parties, to ensure this is not a successful strategy,” it states. 

“In a general election voters are looking for vision, progress and solutions which involve them. We are all part of a more connected world.

“The Irish State has enjoyed the economic benefits this has brought from a business perspective, but is often slow when it comes to sharing the economic benefits to everyone in our diverse and multicultural society.”

The letter claims that some politicians have been using hate speech to target minority groups. 

It said the United Nations Human Rights Committee recognised the damage this can cause during election periods. 

“In recent months several high-profile political figures have employed ill-informed, divisive and hugely damaging language regarding minority communities in Ireland, including Travellers, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

“Scapegoating ethnic and religious minority groups only builds divisions and stokes tension in Irish society. Too often, it dominates political discussion, distorting reality, stoking discord and stealing oxygen from more relevant issues.

“It entrenches discrimination, reinforces barriers within Irish communities instead of creating opportunities for inclusion and understanding.

“We call on candidates to fully represent their constituencies, in all their glorious and rich diversity,” it concluded, calling for them to focus on uniting communities, recognising the cultural benefits, offering solutions to inequality, and promoting access to education, healthcare, and housing. 

Other groups who signed off on the letter include the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the National Traveller Women’s Forum, and the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland. 

Politicians have been campaigning for votes for almost two weeks now after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that 8 February is the day the country will be going to the polls. 

So far, issues such as housing, healthcare and drugs have dominated the debate. Tonight the leaders of seven political parties will take part in an election debate, all vying for the public’s support.

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