Author: Harry McGee
~ 3 minutes read
World of Politics with Harry McGee
Ballinrobe, Rosscahill, Fermoy, Lismore, Leitrim village, Ardee, Carlingford, Ringsend, Rosslare, Rooskey. The list is growing. In all of those places there has been a similar pattern.
The Department of Integration secures a deal with an accommodation provider (usually the owner of a disused hotel) to house people seeking international protection. It contacts local politicians. The window between notification and occupation is invariably very short. Word gets out. Word gets out. People begin to congregate. A Facebook page is set up. Placards materialise out of nowhere. So do braziers.
We hear the same tropes being repeated everywhere. Single males. Seeking international protection. Unvetted. We don’t know where they come from etc. Will people be safe with scores of single men knocking around the place? We hardly have the services here to look after our own. Where they are being housed is in the middle of nowhere. The country is already full.
There’s a lot to unpack in all of this. For one, the vast majority of the people protesting are not fanatic or racist or anything like that. They live in small rural communities and feel incapable of absorbing so many people in their community. Some believe some of the tropes that are circulating even though there is no basis to them. Or at least do not know whether to believe them or not.
Then there is the notice. This is a legitimate argument. The local community are not told about the use of the centre until a few days before it’s due to open. There are lots of reasons for this. But the nub of the matter is that the Department can’t reveal it until a deal has been struck with the accommodation providers. And usually when it is done, the pressure on them to find accommodation is so huge that they have to move with unseemly haste. For example, in Ballinrobe the first notification and briefings were given on January 4 with people expected to move in several days later.
You can understand the pressure that the Department is under to house people. The weather over Christmas was awful and it’s been followed by an icy spell. There are hundreds of people who are living in tents now in less-than-ideal conditions. Some of the asylum seekers (and they are mostly men) have the unenviable choice of staying in an emergency hostel where they are exposed to the perils of being in with drug addicts and volatile people.
Pictured: The fire at the Ross Lake Hotel in Rosscahill last month.
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