This morning I wrote to all my fellow general election candidates in Dublin West, asking for their agreement that we all exercise care in the language we use on the campaign trail when discussing immigration and integration.
I’m making this call in light of recent remarks made by another candidate in front of a group of children which included comments like “open floodgates” and “let too many in too quick”. Now, people regularly express concern over immigration and integration to me on the doorsteps. I’m not saying we don’t discuss these issues, or that we can’t have different opinions. But I do think it’s vital that we don’t use language that is hurtful or likely to be divisive in our community, especially when children are involved.
I’m not trying to single anyone out here, so I’m not naming the individual in question. However, I do think it’s vital that as general election candidates, when we engage in debate with each other or with the voters in Dublin 15 on a delicate issue like immigration, we do so in a responsible fashion. Resorting to easy stereotypes will not progress this issue any further. I hope my opponents in the Dublin West constituency can agree with me on this.
Below is the text of the letter that I have sent to the other candidates.
I am writing to yourself and all the general election candidates in Dublin 15 regarding the language we use in discussing the issues of immigration and integration during this campaign.
These are issues that regularly come up for me on the doorsteps, and I’m sure you have had similar experiences. As such, they are legitimate topics for debate and for differing views. However, I do think it is vital that in discussing these issues, we do not use language that is hurtful or likely to be divisive in our community.
At a recent forum for young children, a candidate made remarks including “open floodgates” and “let too many in too quick”. I stress that I am not trying to attack anyone with this, but I think such language is inappropriate if we are to have a mature debate on these issues. I particularly think the language is inappropriate in the presence of children, both Irish and of non-Irish parents.
I hope you can agree with me that if issues such as immigration and integration come up in debates between candidates or on the doorsteps, we can all treat the issues in a responsible fashion.