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Ireland should do more for refugees says Sinead Gibney of IHREC

'I want us on the right side of history'

Yesterday evening as I was enjoying my favourite black and white pudding – fried in butter, as is proper – I happened to hear Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Sinead Gibney, taking to the airwaves on RTE in an attempt at shoring up public support for the increasingly untenable idea that this country can accommodate a literally limitless number of migrants from Ukraine, and indeed the rest of the world. 

As many readers will be aware, the situation as it stands in Ireland is so bad that equestrian centres, office buildings, and disused army barracks are now being considered as potential accommodation for the tens of thousands of people who have come here of late – and are still coming. 

Gibney started her admonition by saying that ,“Ireland was failing to meet our obligations under international protection law before the crisis happened”. 

But of course, the record shows that we have taken far more than our fair share of refugees per capita as previously covered by yours truly, and others here on Gript. And indeed, recently, even other media previously unwilling even to contemplate the idea that when it comes to migrants, we should know the one that’s one too many, as the old alcohol safety ads used to say, seem to be wavering from the party line.   

Gibney continued, saying that, “The crisis has placed a huge burden on a already creaking system” but insisting that this “does not mean that that Ireland doesn’t still have those legal obligations” adding “and those are law” 

“It’s not a choice” she said, adding that ”we have to simply” meet those obligations and standards “we have agreed to”. 

I beg to differ here. The Irish government is obligated to put Irish people first in our own country – even in the midst of crisis we come first – that is why we have our own Government, after all, and were not just content to be ruled from London. But, in keeping with the mindset articulated by Gibney, they have utterly failed in this. 

“We are obliged to welcome the refugees as long as they keep coming”she says, but does this mean that we are obliged to have genuine refugees and also those who are simply economic migrants with nowhere to go, at the same time as our native homeless people number over 10,000? 

And what about the shocking figures released about the number of homeless people who died on the streets in this country that Gibney appears to think has access to limitless resources?

 Surely the fact that we literally cannot look after our own, and that they are dying on our streets, gives the lie to that? 

Just because the government is failing on housing doesn’t mean they are let off the hook with their international protection obligations, she says. 

I remember my lecturer, Barry Finnegan, saying sarcastically – to express his disgust at their treatment – that, in media terms, “Homeless people only exist at Christmas” – it seems like the political class in this country have forgotten about them entirely. 

Gibney kindly reminds us that “we’re not the only country with a housing crisis” and that we’ve only taken 1% of the refugees. 

“We have to be realistic about this is just the reality of where we are now,” she said later, claiming that not everything that can be done is being done. 

Commenting on the reception Ukrainian refugees have received in Ireland, she said “racism” underlies the “two tier system” – I think this was an attempt to call anyone who questions the large numbers of people claiming asylum from countries other than Ukraine, which are not in a state of conflict,  ‘racist’. 

“I want to see us on the right side of history,” she says, as if the rest of us are troglodytes who will be damned in the histories for caring about our own people as well as the victims of the world’s problems.

She explained how Ireland is obliged to process international protection applications “without delay” and to provide food, shelter, and clothing.

She says beyond this there are “plenty of other rights that cannot be realised unless those basic ones are met” 

These are “just a reminder” of the “basic standards that we have signed up to” she said, adding “there’s nothing stopping us as a state from going above and beyond on that”.

 Oh but there is: we cannot pack refugees and migrants into vacant accommodation that doesn’t exist. 

Gibney and her peers are completely out of touch with the majority of Irish people, and in parts of the interview her tone has a barely concealed hint of contempt. 

She seems to be telling us bad selfish children to stop moaning and do better – because our superiors (herself included I’m sure) demand it. 

“If you don’t have a home you can’t usually find secure schooling, employment, all of those other things that we just have to do to participate effectively in society”, she says. 

Of course she’s right, and I’m sure the people behind the 60,000 odd applications for social housing in this country would agree, but alas the Irish can go to the back of the line and worry about themselves I suppose. 

As luck would have it, those in receipt of NGO salaries – paid by public money no less – are among the least likely to suffer while the rest of us worry over how many times we can afford to boil our kettles each day. 

I would encourage readers to peruse the 2021 annual report of the IHREC, a note on finances can be found in the section on Corporate Governance and Structure. 

“The 2021 gross estimate provision for Vote 25 Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was €7.014m of which €4.002m was allocated for pay related expenditure, and €3.012m of which was allocated to nonpay expenditure. The provisional (prior to audit) expenditure outturn was €6.817m of which €3.642m was pay and €3.175m was non-pay. At year end, a surplus of €0.192m was liable for surrender to the Exchequer.”

Gibney went on to say that because of ‘climate change’ one hundred million people are displaced globally and that those numbers would only increase. 

She seems to be telling all those far right fascists and neo nazi tweeting #IrelandIsFull that they ain’t seen nothin’ yet. 

The Irish people are entitled to the enjoyment of our country, and those genuinely fleeing war are entitled to decent treatment. We’re entitled to have those entering onto our land vetted to weed out chancers, and as Gript has exposed time and time again chancer-ing is rife

We need to “see the reality of the world we live in.. and see the benefits of being a progressive society that reaches beyond what our obligations are instead see the value added to our population by refugees and people seeking protections”.

So folks, there it is – we should say goodbye to our backwards Irish ways in favour of embracing faceless globalism. Irishness, our national identity – for which countless men and women lost their lives – will be no more than a memory, and we should accept this because, as Gibney says,  it’s the “progressive” thing to do. 

You can listen to Gibney’s full piece originally broadcast on Drive Time here.

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