The General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called on those in positions of power in Irish society to show leadership on the issue of racism.

Peter Cassells was speaking at a conference on immigration in Dublin today where concern was expressed at the growing evidence of racism in Ireland. One man originally from Africa who spoke to RTÉ News said Ireland is not always the land of welcomes, 

You end up meeting lots of people on the street thinking they are good Christians, and they are not.

Racism is manifest on streets in the nation's cities and towns, and yesterday a Dublin Bus driver was fined £900 for shouting racist abuse at a black passenger. 

Leadership is necessary to ensure that attitudes change and to make people of all nationalities welcome in Irish society, says Cassells, and any signs of racism must be wiped out from the workplace, as  

There is a minority who are showing that ugly face of racism and xenophobia.

Longtime civil rights campaigner and founder of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement Professor Kader Asmal says that outdated stereotypes of immigrants still exist in the minds of many Irish people. These are exactly the same prejudices that Irish immigrants faced in the nineteenth century. But the world is a different place now, he maintains, and  

Certain forms of behaviour are impermissible.

Ireland’s economic progress could be under threat unless action is taken to combat racism, says employers group Ibec (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) because foreign workers will not want to relocate here. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 23 September 2000. The reporter is Teresa Mannion.