Ireland is one of the most globalised small countries in the world and by in large we consider ourselves an open and welcoming place. The news of the removal of the ICSA (Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association’s) treasurer James Reynolds over what appears to be his far-right links to the ‘National Party’ is a welcome thing.
The ICSA no longer lists Reynolds as National Treasurer and other news organisations have reported that its due to his far-right links.
Ireland the land of a hundred thousand welcomes cannot be such a place with people like this in authority. In a time when racial tensions are at a peak throughout the world; America’s Muslim ban, Australia’s human rights violations towards asylum seekers and Teresa May’s comments about removing Johnny foreigner it’s important to stand up and be counted.
The fact is Ireland is a multi-cultural society now be it Eastern Europeans, Africans or Asians. These people have come and made Ireland their home. But before the tirade starts about foreigners taking our jobs it’s important to remember that many of these people have come to do jobs we refuse to.
Farming is not immune to this as many non-Irish work in the industry. One only has to look to the UK’s farm labourers largely made up of Eastern Europeans, indeed Northern Ireland only up the road has a high number of migrant workers in the pig, vegetable and meat processing sector.
Countless Irish towns including Ballyhaunis where our offices are have a large Muslim community living and working peacefully and happily in the meat processing plants here and are a welcome benefit to the local economy.
What makes it even closer to home for me is I am from the same community as James Reynolds of Ballinalee, Longford.
My family employs non-Irish people, I have worked alongside them in farming, building and the service industry. They are the best of people and I gladly would call them my friends.
Ireland has a history of such far right people e.g. Eoin o Duffy’s Blueshirt’s but time and time again we have shown ourselves to be above such racial hatred. Why? Because for too long we ourselves were the victims of oppression and discrimination in the old Empire.
Perhaps Mr. Reynolds would do well to remember that Longford has a happy and productive Muslim community and that no doubt he has been a patient of our well known Muslim Dr and community leader. Indeed he has probably got his coffee or bought groceries from non Irish people in the community as I have.
The President of the National Party, Justin Barrett whom I have talked to myself has been clearly linked to German anti-Semitic and far right groups and was a guest speaker in 2002 at a No to Nice campaign which included speeches made using quotes from Adolf Hitler.
The National Party has no place in Ireland or in farming Ireland. Immigration is a fact of a globalised world. The service people you meet every day, your fellow colleagues, your farm labourers may all be foreigners but they are human beings just trying to make a better life for themselves. Something we have all done in other countries ourselves for hundreds of years.
I speak too as a former economic migrant. I received no racial abuse for coming into another country in my case Canada & Australia. The people there welcomed me and knew that I had come to add to that country not take from it.
There are bad eggs in every community even non-nationals, but we have just as many in our community. Let him without sin cast the first stone as the good book says.
Farming is no place for racism. Farming is no place for neo-Nazi’s. Farming our craft and trade is a noble one, lets not drag our profession into the dirt with filth like this.