On January 28th 2023 concerned about a rise in anti-refugee protests across the country, long-standing community and political activists in Dublin gathered at Leinster House under the banner of ‘Dublin Communities Against Racism’ to condemn the policies of the present and previous governments that have brought about conflict and division in our communities and exposed them to the poisonous influence of far-right agitators, who have nothing to offer the working class but misery.
In particular we condemn—
• the abject failure of the present and previous governments to provide adequate housing for the people of Ireland due to an ideological affinity with private property that only serves developers and landlords, including foreign vulture funds. The fact alone of 166,000 vacant homes fully demonstrates this
• the total failure of this and previous governments to provide a fit-for-purpose health system. At the same time we acknowledge the dedicated efforts of health care workers, including many immigrants, who work under extremely difficult conditions
• the ongoing neglect of the poorest, marginalised communities; the lack of services, particularly youth and health care services, including mental health and drug rehabilitation services, the failure to address educational disadvantage, and the failure to address ever-worsening income equality.
It is these failures which provided fertile ground for the unseemly “protests” in communities over recent weeks, for which we hold the government fully responsible.
We unequivocally state that refugees are welcome in Ireland; but that does not mean support for Irish government policy on the issue. It is impossible, for example, to overlook the difference in treatment by the government of refugees from Ukraine compared to those seeking International Protection, which has served to foster a mindset of good refugees and bad refugees and underpin racist thinking. The recent decision to house Ukrainian refugees and not those from other parts of the world amplified this discrimination, bringing great shame to the country, and we condemn it.
We further condemn the failure to abolish the inhumane direct-provision system, designed to allow those in the loop to make a fortune out of refugees. And one has to question the degree of responsibility of the government in declaring that Ireland could take any number of Ukrainian refugees in however short a timeframe (while providing benefits unmatched in most EU countries) without any thought or planning given to accommodation, education, healthcare, etc. This was, intended or not, a gift to the far right and has led to a backlash against all refugees, particularly those seeking International Protection, who communities have generally accepted for decades.
Whatever about the rash promises the government made to the EU, and their struggle to fulfil them, as community activists we reiterate and reconfirm the long-standing principle of community development that communities must be consulted about plans for their areas. We note that proper consultation would have served to defuse a great deal of the opposition that has arisen in communities to the housing of refugees. We reject the characterisation by the government of community consultation as “a right of veto” and emphatically affirm that communities must be properly resourced to accommodate and provide services where significant additional numbers are to be housed.
We call on people to reject the propaganda of the far right that there is no housing crisis in Ireland, no health crisis and no cost-of-living crisis but simply an immigration crisis. This lie only serves to whitewash the failures of the establishment, and is designed to do so. Similarly, we have noted the targeting of Sinn Féin and left -wing parties while little is said about Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, who have governed the state since it was established.
Again, in the traditional role of fascists, this is to help maintain the status quo; and there can be no doubt the far right is being funded to do this. We would particularly caution all who consider themselves patriots to steer well clear of the far-right parties, as you could well end up discovering that you are working for foreign state or non-state actors. We would remind everyone that the far right is not only anti-immigrant but anti-women and anti-LGBT and viciously opposed to working-class organisations, like trade unions, while supportive of a socio-economic system under which the rich get richer while the needs of the people remain unmet.
In recent weeks, in response to the targeting of refugees, the call “take it to the government” has arisen in communities. We are acting on this and urge all decent people who are struggling to pay bills, angry about the lack of housing, angry about the health system, and so forth, to join us in future actions in holding those directly responsible for the problems to account. We should not be diverted from fighting for a better Ireland for all.
Damien Farrell (South Inner City community activist)
Liam O’Brien (Ballymun community activist)
Dean Scurry (Ballymun community activist)
Cat Inglis (Coolock community activist)
Bernie Hughes (Finglas community activist)
Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais (Finglas community activist)
Helena McCann (Athy community activist)
Tom Crilly (Ringsend community activist)
Joe Mooney (East Wall community activist)
Eoin O’Flaherty (Clonmel community activist)
Marie Casey (Dungarvan community activist)
Ado Perry (Cabra community activist)
Reuben Hambakachere (Navan community activist)
Yvonne Clarke (Coolock community activist)
Ray Sparky Corcoran (Ballymun community activist)
Martin Hughes (Balbriggan community activist)
Paula Kearney (North Inner City activist)
Gina Nicoletti (Charlemont Areeet community activist)
Derek Byrne (Donaghmede community activist)
Billy Duggan (Ballymun community activist)
Eileen Flynn (Senator)
Dean Mulligan (Fingal councillor)
Alan Lawes (Meath councillor)
Pat Dunne (Crumlin councillor)
Sophie Nicoullaud (Ballyfermot councillor)
Cieran Perry (Dublin Central councillor)
Micheál Choilm Mac Giolla Easbuig (Gaeltacht Dhún na nGall councillor)
Dan Kerr (Mid-Ulster District Council councillor)
Eamonn Keenan (Fermahagh-Omagh Council councillor)
Noeleen Reilly (Ballymun councillor)
Barry Monteith (Mid-Ulster District Council councillor)
Joan Collins (TD)
Tommy McKearney (community activist)