Tallaght Stadium was the venue yesterday for a special event as football legend Roy Keane presented awards to young people who developed creative ways to tackle racism.
The Ireland assistant manager was in town for the Annual Show Racism the Red Card awards ceremony which recognises the efforts of young people up and down the country to eradicate the scourge of racism from the beautiful game.
Speaking to RTE’s Tony O Donoghue, Keane spoke of his anger at the “disgusting” plight of racism that still lingers in the game.
He had been trying to explain to referee Daniele Minelli that a group of Cagliari fans had been allegedly racially abusing him.
“There are still a lot of ignorant people out there and it looks like the people involved are going to be charged,” Keane said of the incident.
“In my opinion, rightfully so. It’s unacceptable that these things happen, not just in football but anywhere.
“It goes to show that, as much as there is great work being done, you can’t relax; you have to keep working, trying to educate people because it’s unacceptable, really it’s disgusting.”
Show Racism the Red Card is a charity that uses sports and the high profile of sportspeople to tackle racism. The organisation holds an annual creative competition, calling on young people to develop creative messages about racism and integration.
Three hundred young people from youth groups, Youthreach services, and primary and secondary schools attended the awards ceremony today.
Other groups that received awards included young people from St. Paul’s CBS Brunswick Street in Dublin city centre; the CBS primary school in Dundalk, Co. Louth; and Youthreach Progression in Navan, Co. Meath.
As well as Keano and Tony O Donoghue, other special guests yesterday included
• David Stanton TD, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, with special responsibility for equality, immigration and integration;
• Cllr. Guss O’Connell, Mayor of South Dublin County Council;
• Annette Dolan, Deputy General Secretary of the Teachers Union of Ireland; and
• Sports commentator Tony O’Donoghue.
Speaking at the event, Minister Stanton said:
“Show Racism the Red Card does excellent work in educating young people throughout Ireland about the importance of challenging racism and building positive intercultural relationships.
“This is an area to which the Government is strongly committed.
“In recent months alone, the Tánaiste and I published the Migrant Integration Strategy to provide a framework for government action on migrant integration from now until 2020.
“We launched the Communities Integration Fund to assist community-based organisations to promote integration at local level. There is also a national scheme of funding to promote integration, as well as the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund with anti-racism measures eligible under both of these.
“These are just some of a range of measures being implemented by government to ensure Ireland is at the forefront of promoting tolerance and integration.”
Also speaking at the event, Garrett Mullan, Executive Director of Show Racism the Red Card, said it was “more important than ever before” for governments to show leadership in relation to tackling racism.
“Political developments over the past year have shown why it is hugely important to educate our young people about the need for tolerance, intercultural understanding and respect for differences,” he said.
“Now is a really crucial time for investment in anti-racism measures. Governments worldwide need to tackle the rise of extremist and anti-migrant views.”
Mr. Mullan said it was heartening that 2017 saw the highest number of entries ever for the Show Racism the Red Card creative competition.
“Three hundred young people from 38 schools and youth services are here today from more than 240 involved,” he said. “Educating younger generations to stand up to racism is the most effective thing we can do to ensure Ireland remains a tolerant, welcoming and fully integrated society.”