by Gary Daly

Demonstrations have been called claiming to represent communities in Ireland under various slogans such as “Ireland is full” or “Ireland says no”. We know that Ireland is not full. The population is millions less than pre-famine times. There are many thousands of housing units and buildings laying empty across the country.

Successive neoliberal governments have failed the Irish people, and particularly its homeless population, for years. In doing so, they have also failed refugees and migrants who have come to our shores. The Direct Provision system is a crime and many migrants are homeless.

It is undeniable that many of those involved in these demonstrations are using the language of the far right, of virulent racism, of hateful xenophobia. Violence is threatened against refugees and migrants simply due to the colour of their skin and their countries of origin. A migrant camp was violently attacked. Direct provision centres are targeted. Social media is awash with hate and vitriol, all based on ignorance and prejudice.

Misleading and fact-free slogans and tropes are circulated and accepted as fact when they are simply a tissue of lies. We cannot sit back and hope that this awful period in our history passes. Many of us are working in our communities trying to counteract this misinformed narrative but whilst that slow and painstaking work continues, our refugee and migrant communities are in danger now – and they do not see that work being done in communities. They see crowds gathered outside hotels and refugee centres screaming “get them out”. That is not expressing reasonable concern. That is blatant intimidation. Anger at the government should be directed at the door of the government, where it rightfully belongs, and not at the door of those who have had no part to play in the immiseration of communities across the country. The right to claim asylum is enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention and Ireland has been a party to it since 1956.

Irish people have a proud history of showing solidarity. From those who joined the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War to the Irish community in London who stood with their Jewish siblings on Cable Street to those at home who now proudly stand with our traveller community against homegrown racism and with our LGBTQI siblings against homophobia and transphobia in our communities. The far right claim to be protecting women and children but they never fought against the Magdelene Laundries or Mother and Baby Homes and most recently they fought against Repeal and women’s right to choose.

We call on all our comrades to come out in determined solidarity, to stand together with our refugee and migrant communities with strength and resolve on Monday 6th February at 1.30pm at the Spire in Dublin to oppose the latest iteration of anti-refugee hate.

Who lives here belongs here!

“We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.” Fred Hampton.