Dungannon civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey praises local media for helping beat racism

Bernadette McAliskey, co-founder South Tyrone Empowerment Programme with VIEWdigital Co-Founder Brian Pelan
Bernadette McAliskey, co-founder South Tyrone Empowerment Programme with VIEWdigital Co-Founder Brian Pelan

Dungannon civil and human rights campaigner, Bernadette McAliskey, has highlighted the importance of local media and communities in tackling racism at a magazine launch.

Mrs McAliskey, former Mid Ulster MP and head of the Dungannon based migrant support group STEP, was unveiled as the guest editor of a special edition of the VIEW Magazine at the ‘Stronger Together NI’ seminar at Ranfurly House.

In the magazine, Bernadette McAliskey wrote that with the end of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ many new people had moved here but had become targets for abuse because of their race.

She noted “the arrival of people from other places to these shores, once the word got out that the war was over and it was safe enough to live in your own house without barricading your doors and windows or keeping a fire extinguisher at the bedside.

“People get up and go out without checking if it is safe to be in the street, and don’t get abused for going to work in the wrong job or place. Or do they?”, she asked.

Mrs McAliskey praised community and local media for keeping racism in the public eye unlike the mainstream media which, she said, had stopped reporting on the plight of Syrian refugees and instead was now focusing on the British government’s decision to take part in an air war in Syria.

“Today we are bombing Syria and exacerbating the refugee problem”, she said.

STEP had “directed VIEW magazine to a wide range of people who were challenging racism”, she continued. “It is very important that we have local media where the community can have their say. If we don’t create our own media to get our own message out, nobody is going to hear what we are going to say.”

VIEW magazine was launched by Stronger Together NI, a network for people in the fields of racial inequality and ethnicity.