At this stage stories like the one that emerged from Killarney this week are not even surprising any more. But they are still shocking. And the people responsible – Minister Roderic O’Gorman and the rest of the government – need to be held to account.
The Minister has now beat a hasty retreat from part of his decision to move out 135 Ukrainian women and children who have been staying in the Hotel Killarney since last March – though its worth noting that, while the families will be allowed to stay in Kerry, they will be exiting the hotel.
They were given less than 48 hours’ notice that they were to be moved to Co Mayo – so that the hotel they were staying in could be readied for 192 men who had come from Libya, North Africa and Georgia.
This is being presented as a clash arising from the difficulty in providing for the needs of asylum seekers but can we please have some honesty and clarity on this issue? It is very unlikely that those 192 men were all, or even in the majority, actual refugees.
As my colleague Matt Treacy has repeatedly pointed out far too many of those who come to Ireland supposedly seeking asylum are from countries that are safe, and they do not meet the criteria for international protection. We are, far too often, being taken for fools.
Unlike in Ukraine, for example, there is no war taking place in Georgia. Libya is not a war-torn country.
Yet, because of the frankly insane system set up by Roderic O’Gorman and the government, genuine refugees from Ukraine, women and children, were to be shunted aside for the spiralling numbers of people coming here from safer countries claiming to seek asylum.
RTÉ News said that the Ukrainians were distraught at the decision – that many of them have jobs in the town while their children attend a nearby school in Killarney.
The Mayor of Killarney has called on the Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman to reverse a decision to move over 130 Ukrainian women and children staying at a hotel in Killarney since last March to new accommodation in Co Mayo pic.twitter.com/17TcSwdn0t
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 11, 2022
Local TD, Brendan Griffin said that moving the Ukrainian families to Westport, uprooting children from schools and parents from jobs, was an “outrageous proposal”. The local principal says that he was ‘flabbergasted’ at the decision while the Mayor of Killarney, Niall Kelleher, told an emergency meeting of community leaders the move “does not make any sense”.
Well of course it doesn’t. It’s madness. But Griffin is a Fine Gael TD and Kelleher a Fianna Fáil Councillor. They are both members, therefore, of the largest parties to this shambolic government who have caused this mess.
Now, much of the current disastrous situation – where we literally have no room for all the people who were told to come here- is the fault of Roderic O’Gorman. It was under his watch that people were told that if they came to Ireland they’d have a house within four months and lots of other free stuff.
As we previously reported, so keen was O’Gorman to ensure the world knew what a soft touch we were that he tweeted the information in many different languages including Albanian, Arabic, Somali, Urdu and Georgian.
So why are we surprised at the ‘dramatic’ increase in people arriving here claiming to be refugees? It was bound to happen. If Roderic O’Gorman didn’t realise that, then he should no longer be Minister. If he did realise that, and did it anyway, then he should no longer be Minister and there should be an inquiry.
Then the hapless Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced that she would make anyone who has been here illegally for a certain period of time a citizen. No-one knows how many people will take up that offer because the State doesn’t know how many the amnesty might apply to. Sure why would they? Who expects anyone to be accountable for anything in this country.
One migrant who moved here from the UK, where he lived for 15 years ‘working on the black market’ and looking for a visa, told Ben Scallan that he travelled to Ireland after hearing about the Justice Minister’s policy. “When I hear about Ireland, about Justice Minister in Ireland, they open for everyone to get a visa for asylum seeker, if not for live to remain,” he said.
Haven’t we a great reputation abroad as a small, friendly, welcoming country? Or maybe a nation run by virtue-signallers who invite the world to come here in the middle of a housing crisis, and a cost of living crisis, and a healthcare crisis, because to hell with our own people or with those in genuine need as long as Cabinet ministers get the praise they crave from the media and at Davos.
Precisely the same thinking led Ireland to tell Ukraine that we could take unlimited numbers of people fleeing that country. That wasn’t just foolish, it was untrue. There is a limit to how many people this small island can accommodate, however much we would like to help everyone. That’s the sensible position most countries adopted. But not Ireland. Our Cabinet were too busy showing everyone they were better than the Brits (who took far less refugees per capita than we did) or something.
So now, we have the appalling situation where women and children from the Ukraine were going to be forced out of their temporary homes to make way for hundreds of men from Georgia and Libya and elsewhere.
Roderic O’Gorman has now, under pressure from government colleagues, reversed his decision regarding Killarney. On the RTÉ report above, the Minister came out with the usual waffle to explain away the mess that he and his Cabinet created.
RTÉ should have the gumption to challenge Roderic O’Gorman and his weasel words. His department has not ‘found itself in a difficult situation’ – he and the rest of the government are still insisting on pushing the same policies that have created this shocking mess.
The 192 men being moved to Killarney were displacing Ukrainian refugees because not only is Citywest full but more asylum claimants – most likely from safe countries like Georgia and Nigeria – are expected.
Their needs and demands are now coming into direct conflict, not only with those of Irish people, but of genuine refugees. But this a mess that will happen again because the government doesn’t want to fix it.