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    Minister for Integration once faced ethnic abuse

    By Noreen Bowden | July 16, 2007

    Justice Minister Conor Lenihan, who has recently been appointed Minister for Integration,  has told the Irish Independent that he was subjected to a serious incident of racial abuse while working in London in the 1980s. The incident occurred in a pub, when four men began shouting at him about the North.

    “You have that awful dilemma: do I finish the pint or leave it? I made out as if I was going to the lavatory but I sprinted for the door.”

    Mr Lenihan said the four men chased him down the street while shouting, “you Irish bastard”.

    “I wasn’t particularly fit, but I can tell you I was in the Ben Johnson league of sprinting with those four lads after me…

    “That kind of verbal abuse is a disgrace, and it’s not in any way acceptable”

    Mr Lenihan, said the incident had rasied his awareness of the pain of racial abuse.  He discussed the incident as part of an interview regarding his new position as Minister for Integration.

    He also told the newspaper that he wanted to introduce citizenship ceremonies that would encourage integration; this would include citizenship tests as well as giving local communities the opportunity to welcome migrants.  He will be focusing much of his efforts at integration in the education system, saying that the battle of integration would be won or lost in the schools.

    The politician said, however, that his new post does not indicate a shift toward greater leniancy in migration policy.

    “There will be no integration without deportation.  I don’t want people to think that just because a new Minister for Integration has been appointed that somehow the doors are going to be flung open and Ireland is going to have open, unrestricted migration”.

    Mr Lenihan had been criticised in 2005 for using a term that was interpreted as an ethnic slur against Turkish workers; he noted during the interview that he had apologised for the incident and did not feel it was an issue in his current job. He also said that he had been defended at the time by members of immigrant ethnic groups.

    Read the articles in the Irish Independent:

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