Call to halt rise of extremist views

Published Monday, 09 June 2014
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A community worker and author has called for action to combat racist abuse and attacks in order to halt the rise of increasingly extremist views in Northern Ireland.

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Jayne Olorunda has lived her whole life in Northern Ireland.

However, with a father from Nigeria and a mother from Northern Ireland she has been the victim of racist abuse.

"I don't know anything different to Northern Ireland, but people tend to label me as an ethnic minority," she said.

"But the only difference between me and anyone else is the colour of my skin."

Over the past number of weeks racist attacks and abuse have come to the fore.

Police have reported a huge rise in attacks, with the majority taking place in Belfast, in the past year.

The debate also gathered further traction, after Pastor James McConnell's recent anti-Islamic sermon sparked controversy.

Both the pastor and First Minister Peter Robinson - who gave his backing to the preacher - made public apologies after their comments drew criticism.

There has also been a widespread anti-racism movement with thousands taking part in rallies in Belfast in a call for greater solidarity.

"Mr Robinson's comments didn't help," said Jayne.

"But we would never have had the situation we had last week when two men were attacked and it was top story on the news.

"Without these comments these things would not have been top of the agenda, I think whilst the situation could be further inflamed it has also been highlighted in a way that nothing else has done over the years."

People welcomed President Obama and they go to see the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna in concert, but if they lived here it would be very different. It's like not on our doorstep.

Jayne Olorunda

Jayne has been subjected to racist abuse during walks through a park with her dogs and even as she filled her car with petrol.

She continued: "It was mostly from children or young people but they are getting it from somewhere.

"I am fortunate that it has only been comments, but I am constantly looking over my shoulder given the rise in attacks.

"Every rattle or bang at night, I am looking out to see is that somebody coming to smash my window in, or to attack us."

Jayne says that condemnation of racist attacks is no longer enough and more needs to be done to stop the rise in extremist views.

She added: "We can all walk around and condemn racism until we're blue in the face.

"Condemnation is great but it won't prevent racist attacks.

"We actually need to see proper work being done, we need to see people being re-educated, we need to see people that have negative views being spoken to and being challenged.

"This isn't happening and for too long they've been swept under the carpet and now we're seeing the extremists face rising and for me all the strategies in the world, all the condemnation in the world won't make an extremist turn around and say 'I'm not racist anymore' - these people need tackled.

"I don't think it's something that can be eradicated anywhere in the world but we can certainly lessen it."

© UTV News
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3 Comments
Celer et Audax in Omagh wrote (134 days ago):
Well said that young lady. This is indeed a great wee land we live in, except for the bigots. Education can enlighten but for those who refuse to broaden their mind .... sensible sentences are a deterrent !!!
Jos in Belfast wrote (134 days ago):
Jayne is correct for too long sectarianism has been ignored in this province. Its about time it was tackled head on.
Newry in Newry wrote (134 days ago):
This young woman makes a lot of valid point. She is very insightful. Well done!
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