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I FAIL to see why Cllr Joe O’Callaghan deems it necessary or desirable for the Minister for Justice to ban the wearing of the burka in public places (News, August 19).
The wearing of the burka (as well as the hijab and niqab) is a complex issue — one that has been debated in other European societies for decades with no satisfactory outcome.
The wearing of the hijab by students in schools in Ireland was raised in 2008, but died away by the time the then government deferred to boards of management to make individual decisions, but only after they consulted with all stakeholders, and also took into consideration equality legislation. Since then, I know of no school that has attempted to ban the hijab, which is to be welcomed.
Personally I don’t like seeing women wearing the burka and niqab, based on the possibility that these women are being forced to wear the garment, but as I have never stopped and asked these women, I don’t think my clouded judgment should become a reason for banning them.
Ireland has a sizeable emigrant community. Other European countries (including France) have failed to integrate their emigrant communities (including second and third generations) successfully, and tend to react negatively when this failure becomes apparent.
We have an opportunity to build a successful model of integration, by fully resourcing and implementing the intercultural policies devised over the last decade.
What would be more welcome would to reverse the decision of one of his predecessors, who disallowed the turban to be incorporated into the Garda uniform, thus preventing Sikhs from joining the force.
Cllr O’Callaghan is also asking for the hoodie to be banned in light of the riots in England. We live in a society that, thankfully, does not impose too many restrictions on us. Let’s not get carried away and start imposing them because of incidents that have occurred abroad.
Cllr Pa O’Driscoll (FG)
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