The UCD Socialist Workers Student Society and UCD Amnesty International came together on Tuesday October 13th outside the Student Centre to host a demonstration protesting Ireland’s disappointing reaction to the refugee crisis. Ireland’s response has been laboured in shouldering our responsibilities to take in a portion of the millions of refugees who have fled from conflict to Europe’s shores. The latest figure pitched has been a commitment to integrate 4,000 new asylum seekers, yet this number pales in comparison to other European states. Germany have lead by example and are taking in 800,000 refugees, proportionate to 1% of their total population, Ireland’s intake however comes to a meager 0.06% of our total population.
John Molyneux, a leading member of the Irish Anti-War Movement and a campaigner for refugee rights addressed the crowd of students.
“We have the resources to house the Syrian refugees, to house the travelers, to house the homeless. The problem is how those resources are distributed, who controls them, and the fact that the whole system works on the priority of profit and not on human need. We stand in solidarity with the refugees and in solidarity with the homeless. The terrible catastrophe of the civil war in Syria has displaced 7 million people… this is not a problem that is going to go away. The question of how we respond to refugees is one of the key questions – do we live in a decent society that puts human needs first, or do we live in a vicious barbaric society that turns their backs on people. Solidarity with the refugees – they should be welcome here.”
Ellie, a member of the Irish Refugee Council spoke about her own experience as an asylum seeker, and the purgatory she has been subjected to for years in Direct Provision.
“I have been living in direct provision for five years; people ask me – what is direct provision? It is a system of no use, [it] undermines the people, and making them believe they are good for nothing. Direct provision is a place where no families or people should be spending many years. I am a young woman and also a mother, and my goal is to be successful, independent and to have my own freedom. I have lived under supervision like a prisoner who doesn’t know my crime or my sentence. The system is very depressing and stressful, so I decided to become a campaigner for an end to direct provision. I have used my pain to campaign for other people, who cannot campaign for themselves. I will be part of Ireland’s future, and we can make it brighter.”
“As I am standing here I am also crying in sympathy with my brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces from Syria who are displaced all over the world, fleeing for their lives. We both are looking for a place of safety and better lives. I choose to stand tall and not let the system suppress me [or] depress me. Lets be the change, and let the change start right now.”
The prevailing acquiesce across the Irish political executive seems content to accept a token number of refugees and ignore the magnitude of the continuing crisis, a position evidently not accepted by numerous UCD students.
- Jack Power, Politics & Innovation Editor