“I don’t back down if I’m right”: A Cork politician has called for Ireland to vet all Afghan refugees entering the country, dismissing cries from groups like People Before Profit.
Independent Cork City Councillor Ken O’Flynn made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Gript.
“I think, in fairness, when there’s a country that’s war torn – a country that’s been linked to the Taliban and ISIS – of course there are people going to try and take the opportunity to sneak into Europe, with maybe not the best intentions,” O’Flynn told Gript.
“And while I’m fully supportive of bringing refugees into Ireland, I’m also fully supportive of us not repeating history and bringing the wrong people in. And we have to have checks and balances, the same as anybody else – the same as you or I if we visited Australia or the United States.”
The councillor added that due to his personal experience with terrorist atrocities, he was particularly wary of any potential risk in Ireland.
“I was in the United Kingdom during 9/11, I was in London for the bus attacks. I was in Madrid for the train attack, believe it or not,” he said.
“So I’ve seen the panic, and the grief, and the heartache from the general public when a terrorist attack happens, having been close to it in the past.”
He added that Europe has had an issue with terror cells historically.
At least two of those involved in the deadly 2015 Paris Attacks are thought to have posed as refugees to enter Europe through Greece, while three other individuals were refugees or asylum seekers at the time of attack. Seven were in the country of France illegally or awaiting deportation.
@BBCWorld: Paris attacks: Who were the attackers?
— Ben Scallan 🇮🇪 (@Ben_Scallan) August 18, 2021
Additionally, Europol has noted a significant increase in arrests for suspected jihadist terror offences in Ireland in 2020, tripling from the year before.
— gript (@griptmedia) June 22, 2021
O’Flynn went on to express his belief that all those entering Ireland should understand that the country holds modern values which are incompatible with Sharia law.
“We’re a modern country,” the former Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork said.
“We’re a country of equal opportunities to all religions and none. I think we have to ensure that those people who are coming to settle in this country understand that.
“Understand our respect for women, understand our respect for other people’s religion, and our tolerance for homosexuality, race, colour and creed. I think that’s vitally important if we’re to have a dynamic society, or a multicultural society.”
He added: “I would be fearful of those people who are adhering to Sharia law, considering its reputation when it comes to women’s rights or homosexuality is not very good to say the least.”
Notably, according to Pew Research Centre, 99% of Muslim Afghanis believe that Sharia law should be the national law of their country.
Trump is mostly correct about Sharia law support in Afghanistan https://t.co/cOnUbkQwNm
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) September 1, 2016
O’Flynn criticised Ireland’s lack of vetting migrants and refugees, stating that there were “serious issues” with the process.
“I don’t think we’re doing enough to vet people at all,” he said.
“I think there are serious issues when it comes to the refugee situation.
“I’ve been in refugee centres, I’ve met with people claiming refugee status. I’ve helped certain people. With paperwork and documents, writing letters to various ministers at times and helping them find a solicitor.
“I think the way we’re processing refugees is taking far too long. The appeal process and everything else needs to be sped up, with the ultimate checks and balances therein. And that includes vetting everyone who enters the country for permanent residence.”
He concluded: “We can’t be allowing people into the country if we don’t know their background, if we don’t know who they are or if they’re a danger to themselves or other people. And that includes checking prison records, etcetera.”
The councillor had previously received pushback from groups like People Before Profit, who called on the city council to suspend him while “investigating his hostility towards refugees”. O’Flynn responded by dubbing his critics “snowflakes.”
When asked by Gript why he had refused to back down under the criticism, he bluntly replied: “Because I don’t back down if I’m right.”
Laughing, he added “I don’t know who People Before Profit are. They have almost no elected representatives so far as I’m concerned, and I have no interest in pandering to them.
“A lot of that pushback is coming from people who aren’t even in your constituency – a lot of those complaining were in the UK, actually, when you go into their profiles. I’d call that astroturfed politics, and if you’re going to bow to that kind of pressure you’d want to re-evaluate what you’re doing for a living.
“I think the problem is now in society that, while everybody’s entitled to their opinion, there are certain people on social media who love to jump on a bandwagon and take an opportunity to have a go. And that says more about them than it does the person who takes a stance.”