All Donegal candidates in the upcoming local and European elections are being called on to sign a national “Anti-Racism Election Protocol” as a way of expressing their commitment to run campaigns that do not incite hatred or prejudice against minority communities.
     The Protocol, which is an initiative of ENAR Ireland, is being promoted locally by Donegal Travellers Project (DTP) and the Donegal Intercultural Platform.
     The Protocol can either be downloaded from or signed at DTP’s office on the Port Road in Letterkenny, 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., from Monday, 29th April, on. Anyone wishing to make an appointment can do so by ringing (086) 174 1056.
     “We at Donegal Travellers Project are inviting all candidates who have not yet signed the Protocol to call in to our Letterkenny office for a cup of tea and a chat about it,” said Ann Friel, DTP Primary Health Care Team Leader. “The more candidates who commit to the Protocol, the better the chance there won’t be a repeat of the type of false and inflammatory remarks that were recently used by a candidate to boost his profile at the expense of the entire Traveller community.”
     In signing the Protocol candidates agree “to send a consistent and clear message to my constituents that I reject racism and all forms of discrimination and hate speech.”
     Protocol signers also agree “to condemn any campaign materials or statements that may incite hatred or express prejudice on the grounds of ‘race’, colour, nationality or origin, ethnic background, religious belief, or membership of the Traveller Community.”
     “All of the main political parties have signed up to the Protocol, which means that members of those parties have no reason not to sign up to it as individuals,” Ann said. “We are calling on all Independent candidates to sign up to it as well.”
     On the same theme of building positive relations among all communities in Donegal, DTP is also calling for Donegal County Council to proactively ensure that there is diversity on all community-based local government structures.
     These include the influential Public Participation Network (PPN) Secretariat and the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), both of which were set up as part of Local Government Act 2014 to provide a link between Donegal communities and the Council.
     Currently members of the PPN from community organisations all over the county elect representatives to both the PPN Secretariat and the LCDC.
     This selection system, however, has led to limited opportunities for minority ethnic community representation on either of these two important decision-making structures.
     As a result, DTP is calling for one seat on each structure to be dedicated to a member of the Traveller or Roma community and a second seat to be dedicated to a member of the Black or minority ethnic community.
     “The current system has consistently resulted in all-white, all-settled memberships of the PPN Secretariat and the LCDC,” said Hugh Friel, DTP Men’s Health and Accommodation Worker. “Donegal is a diverse, intercultural county, and it is vital that this reality be fully reflected in the membership of its community-based local government structures. By having dedicated spaces for representation, Donegal will be sending out the message that it welcomes, cares, and wishes to consider the interests and needs of minority ethnic communities in local government decision making.”