10 April, 2010

Remembering Toyosi Shitta-Bey

I headed into town today to the march in memory of Toyosi Shitta-bey. Thousands of people walked from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dail. On behalf of the Minister for Integration I addressed the March and here's what I said:


We are one.

There is no black Ireland or white Ireland there is one Ireland. There is no old Ireland and new ireland, there is one Ireland.

Today is day of sadness, a day to remember and a time of sorrow.

It is a day to remember the all-to-short life of young, talented member of his community and a gifted footballer

It is a day to remember and to celebrate the life of Toyosi Shitta-bey. My heart goes out to his family. My two young boys are privilaged to go to school with children of different colours, from different nations. It makes their lives richer and it makes Ireland richer. I can not imagine what it would be like for a parent to lose a child in this way.

Today is a day of peace and a day of solidarity.

My colleague the Minister for Integration and Equality Mary White TD stood in solidarity with Toyosi's friends and family at his funeral and is working hard to tackle this act of madness.

She will meet in the coming days with the Nigerian Ambassador. She will work with the Minister for Justice to make sure those who committed this crime face the penalties that they deserve under the laws of this land. She will review the work of the Equality Authority, and if laws need to be changed she will not be found wanting.

Today is also a day to stand together. It is a day to pay tribute to the work of Hartsown Community School, to Shelbourne Football Club, to Sports Against Racism in Ireland (SARI) and the people of Tyrallstown. It is a day to stand up to bullying, to stand up to racism, a day to stand up for integration, for tolerance and a day to stand up for Ireland.

I spoke with friend from
SARI in Ireland earlier and they tell me that on the 8th May a memorial game will be played between a team from Charter in Northern Ireland and a team from SARI. Toyosi missed the last game in Belfast. This game will be in his memory.

Assistant Commissioner Mich Phelan from the Garda Forum on New Communities rang SARI last night and asked "How can we help?". On their behalf I appeal to leaders from Ireland's new communities to go to their Garda stations and offer their help to combat racism.

In the words of the late Dr. King it is a time for "dignity and for discipline". We are created equal and we shall work together to "hew a stone of hope out of this mountain of despair".

Let us go in peace to seek justice.

We stand in solidarity with Toyosi and his family

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