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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Racist thugs need to be rooted out

(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Forty years ago, veteran racist politician Enoch Powell was dismissed from the Conservative Shadow Cabinet for his notorious Rivers of Blood speech.

Two years after the expulsion, Ted Heath became Conservative Prime Minister in June 1970, effectively consigning Powell's political career in Britain to the dustbin.

But in 1974, Powell was back in the Commons when the Ulster Unionists had him as their candidate to win the coveted South Down seat – a post he held until June 1987.

His speech – made on April 20, 1968 – haunted Powell until he died in February 1998, a victim of Parkinson's disease.

Powell pulled no punches when he issued his infamous speech in a Tory centre in Birmingham on that fateful Saturday evening in 1968.

Heath moved quickly to sack Powell from the Shadow Cabinet the following day.

But Powell had got in the first strike. He said: "We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the growth of the immigrant-descended population.

"It is like watching a nation engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. As I look ahead I am filled with foreboding.

"Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood."

Even though Powell died a decade ago, racism is alive and kicking in the North. Police figures show racially motivated crime is on the increase.

Racist groups like the British National Party, British People's Party and Combat 18 are recruiting more than ever.

The more sinister racists are encouraging gullible young people to carry out their evil deeds under the cloak of anti-social behaviour.

In Britain, the real crunch will come on 1 May when English voters go to the polls to elect new councils. Anti-racists fear the BNP will win at least one London Assembly seat.

If the BNP wins in the English capital, boat-loads of racists – not ethnic minorities – will cross the Irish Sea looking for fresh recruits.

Top of the BNP's poll targets is mid Ulster, the stomping ground of the late Billy 'King Rat' Wright, the murdered founder of the sectarian killer gang, the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Bloodless coups in the North and South will see political power painlessly transferred to the DUP's Peter Robinson and Fianna Fail's Brian Cowen.

But all it takes is a few racist thugs, and the sectarian storms which wrecked Ireland for eight centuries will unleash themselves again in racial violence.

Powell is an icon to many of these fascists.

The Provos may have decommissioned and the UDA may have 'stood down' its death squads – but could the North witness a wave of racial attacks sparked by the neo-nazi terror gang, Combat 18?

The major worry is, what happens if the ethnic communities decide to strike back at the racists?

The US already claims there are up to six radical Islamic groups operating in Ireland.

What happens if one of them decides to do a Twin Towers or Madrid-style bombing against Leinster House or Stormont?

At the moment, all the racist attacks seem like one-way traffic against Ireland's ethnic communities. And the majority of these bigots have based themselves in Protestant localities.

These racists need to be rooted out, or never given a chance to bed in electorally.

All they seek is one Irish girl to be raped or murdered by a member of an ethnic minority, or pro-Islamic graffiti to be daubed in loyalist areas and the situation could spiral out of control.

Slowly, but surely the North is ending its religious segregation with millions of pounds of business pouring into the Northern economy and tourist trade.

But what a shame it would be if after all the hard work to clean up the North's image, it was again tarnished by the blood of racist violence. Powell would be laughing in his grave, saying: "I told you so!" Time is not on our side.

April 22, 2008
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This article appeared in the April 21, 2008 edition of the Irish Daily Star.

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