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Joe McDonagh, 1953-2016 May 21, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in racism, Sport.

I was saddened last night to learn of the death of Joe McDonagh, former president of the GAA.

An important contribution to Irish life that is missing from the news reports I have seen this morning is his leadership in combating racism in Ireland. He was chairman of the Government’s Know Racism campaign for three years from 2001. Know Racism’s work inspired, and people still look for the ogham badge that John Rocha designed. But across the entire Know Racism campaign, Joe’s message was simple: the changing ethnic profile of Ireland meant that we need to recognise and stop racism. That was a message that didn’t sit well with senior civil servants with responsibility in the area, and after 2008, the State’s message changed to ‘integration’, shifting from ‘we’ need to combat racism to ‘they’ need to integrate.

(It is only in the last year that the first signs of a change emerged in that line, with Nóirín O’Sullivan ordering an overhaul of Garda systems for recording racist crime.)

I hope that the obituaries that follow last night’s hastily written news reports recognise Joe’s important work on fighting racism


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