We are writing this letter in response to the ‘controversy’ regarding the 72 male 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 as well 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 72 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 Asylum Seekers) 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. May we ask where people based their fear and blatantly insinuate that Killarney will never be a safe place to walk around once these newcomers to 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 and the reality is people don’t leave their own native land and then be treated badly and with suspicion if not out of necessity. And perhaps, if given the welcome, 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 most, should appreciate that last sentiment.
KASI 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 twenty years on, from the arrival of the first international protection 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.
Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine
Is mise le meas,
For and On Behalf of KASI – Killarney Immigrant support Centre