Opinion: refugees links with the homelessness crisis

Choice 1-refugees welcome

Image from SICCA

The current refugee crisis has sparked a new wave of generosity and love as people all over the world welcome refugees. The heart-wrenching photo of a three year old boy called Aylan Kurdi, lying dead on Bodrum beach in Turkey, brought the crisis to the fore and united the masses. This forced the ruling class to take action.

However, all over social media, we see certain people in our society boldly stating that we ‘must look after our own first’. To see such an ignorant statement, lacking humanity and empathy, have such a following in Ireland of all countries is bleak and disheartening.

Although it is true that within Ireland nowadays, we have our own crisis: homelessness. Recent figures show that there are 1,400 homeless children on the island, with more than 3,000 homeless adults in Dublin alone. It is a problem that has been here for some time, growing steadily worse, with not much being done to tackle the root of the problem.

So when I see the cry of ‘we must look after our own first’, I don’t buy it. The people writing these messages are not campaigning for the homeless. They are not helping at food banks and homeless shelters. So one must ask what they actually mean to say with this statement.

Earlier this month, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald announced that Ireland would be taking in some 4,000 refugees. To put that into perspective, we are taking less than 0.1% of our population.  As it stands right now in Jordan, 1 in 5 people are refugees. As one of the richest countries in the world, it is clear that we could and should take more.

Next year’s 1916 commemoration should be a poignant reminder that Ireland too has had a troubled past. And when Ireland was no longer hospitable and safe, we too left our homeland for a second chance. We should therefore be accepting of the poor souls who have had their lives torn apart by the seemingly never ending violence that has its grip on the Middle-East.

But it’s not all bad. SICCDA (South Inner City Community Development Association) have been part of events in the city to welcome refugees into the community. Where originally Michael Colon, CEO (Chief Executive Officer), would have been the sole community officer, the organisation now employs 4 people.

“Our saying is ‘Many Cultures, One Community’ and we are committed to understanding and integrating them into our community,” said Tommy Marr, a SICCDA Community Outreach officer.

On the 19th of October, SICCDA ran a ‘Welcome to the Liberties event’ in Caffe Comino, 18 St Augustine Street, Dublin 8. The event celebrated the cultural diversities in the area and welcomed refugees into the area.


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