Communication vital on Ukrainian asylum seekers, says O’Donoghue

Limerick Independent Ireland TD Richard O'Donoghue

COMMUNICATION is vital if the Government wants people to come here from Ukraine seeking asylum.

That was the view of Rural Ireland Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue speaking in the Dáil. The County Limerick politician said that the first time fear was sparked was in Bruff when people were told 100 Ukrainian people, whom they were told were women and children, were coming and then 300 arrived.

“There were 100 asylum seekers who were male coming in there, inside an area where there were women and children. That sparked concerns. I was recently in Feenagh, where a park was opened during the week. The community welcomed three Ukrainian families into their area. This was done by working with the community,” he told Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman.

“The Minister should have seen it. It was absolutely fantastic to see the community welcoming them in. Those families felt welcomed and safe. Equally, this was done in Cappamore where there was communication with the communities.

“They were welcomed in, the women and children, and they were accepted and help was available to them. The same thing happened in Kilmallock and around County Limerick where there was communication. The problem is that nobody coming into this country as an asylum seeker should feel afraid. Equally, the Irish people should not be afraid either from the lack of communication by the Government. All they want to know is who is coming in and what they can do to help, and they will help.”

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The problem, Deputy O’Donoghue maintains, is that the Government drops asylum seekers straight into communities when there are no services for them.

“The key is communication to, and investment in, the communities, not the other way around. It is like closing the gate in the field when the cattle are outside in the road,” he added.

Minister O’Gorman said there are far-right activists peddling lies about vulnerable people in order to further their own agenda. This, he told Dáil members, has been an increasing theme in the past six months.

“We have seen the emergence of an insidious thread of racism, xenophobia, and unfounded rumours. Misinformation and outright lies have been spread on social media and in communities. There is vilification of men, in particular, who come here seeking international protection, some of whom have been tortured and exploited, who come here seeking refuge and are denigrated as something other, something to be feared.

“International protection means fairly and humanely examining a claim for asylum, sheltering and supporting people while that claim is assessed, and giving people the right to stay here in safety where it is adjudicated that this right is needed. We should not be ashamed of doing that, nor should we shy away from it. This also means that some people will not be successful in their applications and will have to return to their home countries. We should not vilify those people either.”

Minister O’Gorman went onto say that our deep history of immigration means we have an instinctive understanding of the plight of those seeking to make a better life elsewhere.

“There is not one Irish person who has not had a family member – a male family member – who has gone abroad seeking a better life as an economic migrant. We view them as our families and proud relatives living elsewhere and we should recognise that other countries do that as well. It cannot be an accepted norm that the provision of basic shelter to any human being relies on the consent of another, whether from Ireland or abroad. I have always believed that respect for human rights and an understanding of the plight of people in need – particularly those forced to flee abroad – is the mark of Irishness.”