Friday, August 24, 2007

A letter to Conor Lenihan

Dear Minster for State,

In relation to the question of Sikhs and the Garda uniform, I am undecided. I believe that the Gardai should remain neutral in areas of faith but at the same time, the force must represent our community in it's entirety and diversity. I also believe that this question is just one of many that this nation must answer in the years to come. I believe that there is no easy answer. I believe that cool heads and smart people are needed now. I believe that we should look abroad and take advantage of the fact that this issue has run out in other counties already and we should look at how different nations tried to deal with. I don't believe that this is a problem but an opportunity for Ireland to embrace different cultures. I believe that integration is a two-way process and the onus doesn't just lie on "people who come here."

Your words:

If we are to take integration seriously, people who come here must understand our way of doing things. When the President and Ministers travel to the middle-east, they accept cultural requirements of the country and the culture they are operating in. It is a vice versa situation with regard to Ireland.

Integration doesn't just concern "people who come here." For example, a child born in Ireland of Sikh parents in an Irish citizen, yet he or she may well be unrepresented by his or her police force.

Can you please define, "our way of doing things"?

When the President and Ministers travel to the middle-east, they do so to visit. If they were to stay, I wonder would they give up their right to practise their faith.

Are you likening our government to the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Qatar? And why did you use the middle-east as an example? Sikhs are mostly from Punjab, North America and England.

Like I said, I am undecided about this issue re the Garda uniform. But I would advise you, the man in charge of integration, to think longer and harder before you speak on his issue.

John M Rogers.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Immigration is good for Ireland, and I think in the long run the country will cope well with it. Ireland's culture will be enhanced by the mingling of other cultures within it. But I think immigrants to any country should be willing to integrate in that country's culture. Of course no one's religious practices should be infringed upon, but neither should a people have to completely change the way they do things to suit one minority group or another.
Now I know, no one is suggesting the Irish people have to completely change "the way they do things," but are we to end up with the ridiculous situation they have in England; not allowed to call the party in December a Christmas party; encouraged to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Happy Christmas." England has been celebrating Christmas for hundreds of years, and now, all of a sudden, Christmas is somehow seen to exclude others. Why should the English have to change in such a manner?
Another example in New York: women of certain cultures and religions must wear a veil. Some refuse to remove the veil when having their driver's license photo taken. How do you reconcile religious beliefs and practices when they conflict with the necessary systems of a given country? It's not easy.
It all leads me to my final point: religion is the bane of mankind.