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Brexit: Rise in Racism

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 17th October 2016.

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Photo of Oliver McMullan Oliver McMullan Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 17th October 2016

T2. Mr McMullan asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister whether the deputy First Minister can comment on the implications of the EU referendum result on people from other countries who have come here to live and work amongst us, given that, like many other people, he will be increasingly concerned about the rise of racism during and after the EU referendum, with the language emanating from the Tory party conference not helping. (AQT 337/16-21)

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

The EU referendum result has, unfortunately, resulted in significant uncertainty and worry amongst migrant communities regarding their legal status, rights and entitlements. It has also heightened fears of racism and hate crime. Of course, there is a duty on all of us in politics to show positive leadership.

Unfortunately, that was absent from the recent Tory party conference, which, ironically, was held at the part-EU-funded Birmingham International Convention Centre.

Photo of Oliver McMullan Oliver McMullan Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for his answer. What can we do to reassure migrant and foreign national communities that they are welcome here?

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

With your permission, Mr Speaker, junior Minister Fearon will answer that question.

Photo of Megan Fearon Megan Fearon Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for his question. There is an onus on all of us to show support to our minority ethnic communities and our migrant workers. The majority of people in the North, as evidenced by the most recent life and times survey, want a welcoming, outward-looking and open society in which people feel a sense of belonging to this place. I stress that there is absolutely no place for racism in our society. People who have come to make their life here must be protected.

Just last week, junior Minister Ross and I attended the launch of the No Hate Here campaign in north Belfast, which was a PCSP initiative. That is an important example, because we are working hand in hand with the Department of Justice in developing a dedicated action plan as part of the community safety strategy to tackle hate crime.