You cannot have an Irish name and be of my age and not have some awareness of racism and the dangers of stereotyping. I certainly have, and whilst I make it very clear that I am not claiming that this has adversely impacted me (not least because the status of the Irish has changed quite extraordinarily during my lifetime) it provides at least a slight personL insight into the issue of racism.
It first of all makes you realise how unjust stereotyping is.
It secondly gives some insight into the desire of a people to have a state they can call their own.
And thirdly it makes you appreciate the duality of loyalty that this creates, as it does in me.
But what I would also hope is that it creates awareness of the need for tolerance in any society. No place and no society of any size is now likely to exist without embracing people of different origins, places, faiths and cultures. The evidence of history is that that is nothing new.
I do not argue that any such differences should be downplayed. They matter. Please don't tell me I have to ignore my Irish connections just because I have, in my opinion, always been domiciled in the UK because I won't. That's not a route to accommodation. Instead embrace it, as I do. And not as a curiosity, or quirk, or even as a divide, but as a difference that is as real as the boundaries that exist between any two people despite which boundaries almost all of us make successful relationships with others.
This requires respect, tolerance and understanding on both sides. There are of course dominant cultures and those in a minority have to respect that and adjust within reason to accept that culture. The sentiment does, of course, have to be reciprocated.
But, and quite crucially, within that framework there has to be individual respect as well. Again, this must be mutual, but stereotyping is profoundly dangerous and particularly loathsome.
That is what I find shocking about anti-semitism. Of course there will be Jews with whom I have disagreement. Why ever not? But to extrapolate such feeling to a whole community? That is not just bizarre it is obviously wrong and yet across politics in the UK at present we are seeing a tendency to do that. I condemn it from wherever it comes. This has no place in a respectful, civilised, society. The calls to stamp it out in all parties are wholly appropriate.