Letters to the Editor: Extending the hand of welcome and support to asylum seekers

Letters to the Editor: Extending the hand of welcome and support to asylum seekers

We can express concern at lack of services while welcoming migrants, Killarney Immigrant support Centre says. Picture: Getty

Extending the hand of welcome and support to asylum seekers We are writing this letter in response to the ‘controversy’ regarding the 70 male international protection (IP) applicants who are to be moved to Harmony Inn/King’s Court, Killarney. 

As a local NGO supporting asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants, our slant on it is if another 100 or 1,000 people arrive in Killarney, we will continue to provide the necessary support and services to the newcomers to the best of our ability and the resources we have.

However, we genuinely understand and agree that local services are over-stretched and under-resourced, including our own, but frustration at that issue should be directed towards government decisions regarding where it accommodates people and not to those 70 male asylum seekers, who, in fairness with the rhetoric that’s going on in social media and even during the open meeting held the last few days, it saddened us that these male asylum seekers are already pre-judged, solely, perhaps because of their status (asylum seekers), perhaps the colour of their skin and their gender (male) — before they even arrive in Killarney.

The language which insinuates that people arriving are a danger or a threat simply because they are men is prejudiced and disturbing. We may ask where people base their fear and blatantly insinuate that Killarney will not be a safe place to walk around once these newcomers arrive in our town arrive.

We have been working with IP applicants and other refugees from different cultural backgrounds, and our experience has been very positive and humbling, to say the least. 

These people left their country not for adventure — they left their country out of necessity. It is not up to any of us to judge who is genuine or not. There is a process.

People shouldn’t have to leave their native land and then be treated badly and with suspicion. Perhaps, if given the welcome, support, and respect any human being deserve, there is no doubt, most of those people will contribute to make Ireland a more vibrant and progressive society; Irish people, more than any race, should appreciate that last sentiment.

KASI — Killarney Immigrant Support Centre has been working with people seeking refuge for more than two decades. We have found the vast majority of people coming here appreciate the opportunity to rebuild a life in safety and security. 

Indeed, if we were to explore the economic impact of the arrival of adult men, we can be presented with benefits to the local economy. In six short months, many of these people will be eligible to engage in employment. They will have an opportunity to work and contribute to the local economy, which is in perennial need of staff for the busy tourist season.

Over 20 years on, from the arrival of the first IP applicants to Killarney, as well as other parts of Ireland, let us continue to offer people a fair chance at making a new life here. We cannot risk leaving already vulnerable people behind in our society, and we must continue to extend the hand of welcome and support to all.

We can certainly express concern at a lack of services — while petitioning the government to give greater consideration to where they send people — while extending the hand of welcome and offering people a fair chance at engaging in our society. These three points are not mutually exclusive. Killarney is rightly famed for its reputation of welcome. Let us not risk damaging that reputation now.

Marilyn Catapat-Counihan for and on behalf of KASI (Killarney Immigrant Support Centre) Killarney, Co Kerry

Enduring power of attorney difficulties 

I hold enduring power of attorney (EPA) for an adult who is not presently “vulnerable” but may be in the future.

However, many people have no one they feel they can trust to take on such a responsibility.

The sad fact is, some people do not have a friend who is capable of taking on this huge task (to hold EPA, you need to be very assertive, articulate and energetic, you’ll need to devote a lot of time to your task, and can expect to receive torrents of abuse from all directions).

I have come across many cases where a person’s EPA was disregarded by healthcare workers on the grounds that “family is family”, “he’s her son”, and “let by-gones be by-gones”. When I tried to help a man in distress, I came up against a brick wall of institutionalised cultural abuse.

Well meaning friends and priests also tend to gaslight the victims and their carers and minimise the risks of abuse.

While Safeguarding Ireland has done tremendous work (in particular Patricia Rickard-Clarke, who was very helpful to me when I had queries), and organisations such as Age Action and Sage Advocacy are also doing their best, there needs to be a system put in place to give people the right to make decisions without the need to put a trusted person in charge.

Geraldine Comiskey Shankill Dublin We must generate our own nuclear energy Back in the sixties, Youghal was a main location for filming the Gregory Peck classic, Moby Dick. Can it be that they are going to have a repeat in the same genre, this time under acclaimed director Eamon Ryan, our esteemed Minister for Energy?

I refer of course to the so called Celtic Interconnector.

It is to provide us with horrid French nuclear power, for the 50% of the time when the wind isn’t blowing over here. Problem though.

However since this great plan was hatched, Frau Merkel — in order to get re elected a few years ago — did a deal with the German Greens to shut down their nuclear stations.

Germany and France operate a connected grid, so it is now highly unlikely that there will ever be a spare kilowatt coming over to light up Youghal.

Apart from the massive cost to the Irish consumer of this debacle, at least we will have vast quantities of so called green hydrogen to fill our gaps.

However, for that to be put in place, we need to triple our currently installed wind capacity and when the wind is blowing, the subsidy harvesters will sell two-thirds of their output at at one-third price, to the green hydrogen gang, whoever they may be, who must then turn it back into electricity, to fill the calm gaps.

Yet there is a minor problem there: the World is awash with natural gas and hydrogen can be got from that at a sixth of the cost of electrolysis by wind power.

Far more simple is to just generate the nuclear power here. If we don’t move forward on this, we will loose the data centres and big tech along with it and they pay two-thirds of all our taxes.

Nicholas Grubb, Dromana, Cappoquin, Co Waterford 

Anti-war movements shut in Israel, Russia 

A neglected aspect of the brutal ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza has been the closing down of the anti-war movements in Russia and Israel.

Neither Putin nor Netanyahu wish to facilitate voices for peace who demand an end to the carnage.

In Israel, anti-war protests by the Palestinian-Arab minority have been banned and small gatherings of peace activists have been disrupted.

Sami Abu Shehadeh, the leader of Balad, a Palestinian-Arab party that contests Knesset elections, has repeatedly complained about the shutting down of peaceful Arab dissent within Israel.

He remarked earlier this week: “The human, rational voice that says ‘stop the war’ is the only not legitimate voice … what kind of society is this?” This reminds us of the importance of the right to protest. In Ireland, we can raise our voices in a way that Palestinians in Israel cannot. And we must.

Today at 1pm, those demanding an immediate Israeli ceasefire will gather for a national demonstration at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin.

Likewise, in Cork, people will assemble at 1pm on the Grand Parade.

Hopefully, thousands of citizens will join these marches for an end to the slaughter. I will certainly be there.

Fintan Lane, Lucan, Co Dublin 

Impeccable acting from Maggie Smith

I approached the movie The Miracle Club with some apprehension, based on how Maggie Smith and Kathy Bates might tackle an Irish (Oirish) accent.

Both passed with flying colours, not a hint of begorrahs or roads rising to meet anybody.

Maggie Smith on an episode of the Graham Norton Show.
Maggie Smith on an episode of the Graham Norton Show.

Indeed to this day I fondly remember Maggie’s wonderful turn in The Pride Of Miss Jean Brodie, more years ago than one cares to remember, in the alas long defunct Royal cinema in Bray.

One can but quote the late John Prine and say, keep on tickin’ Maggie!

Tom Gilsenan, Dublin 9

Freedom of Dublin City for Kathleen Lynn 

The nomination of environmental activist Greta Thunberg for honorary freedom of Dublin City by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conway should be seen as just a first step in correcting the gender discrepancy associated with recipients of this honour.

Perhaps Dublin City Council’s protocol committee might consider introducing a retrospective nomination process whereby those women who served Ireland and her citizens, acting on selfless motives, might be considered for the freedom of Dublin City award.

We in this country have been very fortunate with the calibre of citizens who, on the premise of volunteer participation, gave sterling service to assist the poor, the sick, and the marginalised and are worthy of recognition by the State.

Dr Kathleen Lynn is one who would surely fall into this category. Dr Lynn was chief medical officer of the Irish Citizens’ Army during the 1916 Rising and was the first female doctor to work at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear hospital when she was appointed in 1910.

Dr Kathleen Lynn. Picture: Royal College Physicians Ireland
Dr Kathleen Lynn. Picture: Royal College Physicians Ireland

Subsequently, Dr Lynn went on to establish the volunteer St Ultan’s Children’s Hospital.

Dr Lynn, a distinguished medical graduate, feminist, suffragette, trade unionist, politician, and comforter of the poor, set high standards of care for the less well off and destitute among us at a time when the nascent Irish Free State could not cope, and was a major contributor to the shaping of modern Ireland.

With her life long partner Madelaine-ffrench Mullen, she worked in the soup kitchens in Liberty Hall during the 1913 Dublin Lock-out.

Both Dr Lynn and Madelaine- ffrench Mullen left a rich tapestry of cultural influence on Irish society.

Tom Cooper, Dublin 6W

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