Letter: Irish vote signals tolerance and mutual respect

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The Independent Online
BRIAN CATHCART seems to believe ('Ireland votes in first Indian MP', 29 November) that perhaps the 'reason that there were very few signs of prejudice' in the election of Dr Moosajee Bhamjee to the Dail is that 'there can be no more than a dozen black and Asian people in Clare'.

Although the Irish are not by any means free of racism, bearing in mind the shameful Nimby attitude to the settlement of travellers and the catastrophic sectarian violence in the North, it is unfair and unwarranted to draw the inference that the Irish react in the same way as certain sections of British society to the influx of black or Asian immigrants.

The Irish electorate, always sophisticated, does not elect someone of the calibre of the 'politically nave' Dr Bhamjee out of a sense of parochial ingenuousness, as your reporter implies. It is rather the affirmation of a people with aspirations for a pluralist, open, inclusive society which sees that blatant xenophobia (as witnessed in the phenomenon of the English soccer hooligan) is to be deplored.

Politically, we have opted for tolerance and mutual respect in all walks of life, in this election and in the election of President Mary Robinson. Can the British say as much?

Dermod Moore

Dublin, Ireland