Integration forum prepares for action week against racism

Kilkenny Integration Forum (KIF) has launched a new poster campaign as part of its efforts to highlight European Action Week Against Racism, from March 16 to 24.

Kilkenny Integration Forum (KIF) has launched a new poster campaign as part of its efforts to highlight European Action Week Against Racism, from March 16 to 24.

During the annual European-wide Action Week, which centres around March 21, thousands of people will actively engage themselves for tolerance, equal rights and celebrate the diversity of Europe. KIF is highlighting the week by informing the public through a poster campaign called ‘Who says we don’t fit together?’ Posters have been put in various places around the county.

A common argument against diversity and multiculturalism in Europe is that some cultures just don’t fit together and that true cohesion and inclusion is impossible; the poster depicts nesting dolls that fit neatly until it forms a complete unit.

KIF was launched in March 2011. Since its inception, KIF has recognised diversity as a positive and attempts to harness that diversity in a united approach to interculturalism.

By getting involved in this campaign, KIF aims to highlight the issues of racism from a non-governmental perspective. They have reprinted a anti-racism leaflet entitled ‘Let’s Talk about racism’, which was launched in 2011 and has been adapted by the Gardaí nationally.

The reporting of racist incidents has declined over the past 10 years since incidents started being documented in 2003. According to the CSO, the highest record of racists incidents reported is in 2007 with 214 incidents recorded nationally; the lowest record in 2003 with 64 incidents responded. There were 83 recorded racist incidents in 2012.

“This decline is a direct attribute to a lack of proper monitoring and recording of racist incidents by the state, with the abolishment of NCCRI,” says Joseph Mguni, chairperson of the KIF.

Mayor of Kilkenny Seán Ó hArgáin said that tackling racism was of crucial importance in Kilkenny and further afield.

“As I said when speaking at a KIF event earlier in my mayoralty, we have gained a huge amount from the multicultural influences which have come our way in recent decades,” he said.

“It has made our city and country a more interesting, more colourful and richer place in which to live. Those who resent this and seek to demean or bully anybody because of their ethnic background must not be tolerated. Of course the best way we can counteract racism is by actively celebrating diversity as we are doing this week in the city.

“In the week when we celebrate our Irishness in the person of a Celtic immigrant from across the sea and we celebrate in The Gathering the fact that our families and ancestors emigrated to so many places around the world where they were welcomed and contributed so much, surely we must put real meaning into the ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ of which we are so proud.”

For the Kilkenny Integration Forum, diversity is not just the presence of different groups living in Kilkenny; it’s about the differences within these groups. It’s not just about seeing the surface but going beneath that surface where we find differences between those we consider to be the same and similarities and connections between those we consider to be different. The organisation says that diversity in Kilkenny makes us unique; as each individual in our community is unique, and this has enriched and enhanced who we are as a community and as a county.