Although Sinn Féin nationally appears to be on the side of the NGO left with regards to the ongoing protests against migrant accommodation centres, it is quite clear to observers on the ground that the party is far from being united on the issue.
At a very basic level, it is clear that many of the protestors in Dublin are people who have voted for Sinn Féin in previous elections, and in some cases been active in helping Sinn Féin candidates to be elected. That has ensured that the party is not as overtly identified with the NGO counter protests as the far left parties.
It has also been apparent that quite a number of Sinn Féin elected representatives have been unhappy with the accommodation of migrants who are clearly not fleeing any sort of war or human rights crisis, or at the very least that TDs such as Reada Cronin in Kildare North and Roscommon councillor Michael Mulligan are responding to disquiet among their own constituents.
In Wexford, the Sinn Féin TD Johnny Mythen was attacked by Eoin O’Malley of the Sunday Independent as a “nativist populist” in January 2021 for the crime of demanding that jobs on a major project in the county go to local people. Just this week, another long standing Wexford republican, Councillor Fionntáin Ó Suilleabháin, reiterated his view that local housing schemes should be largely reserved for local people.
Then yesterday evening the Sinn Féin councillor for the Graiguecullen/Portarlington electoral area in Laois went even further in giving voice to what are obviously growing local concerns over the placing of “3 or 4 asylum seekers from Georgia who were placed in the East End Hotel in Portarlington following a court appearance in Killarney at the start of the month.”
This was a reference to the widely-reported stabbings that took place in the Killarney Hotel among people in emergency accommodation which led to those involved being dispersed into other unwitting communities and indeed among genuine refugees if the situation in other places is any indication.
As Mullins notes: “as usual no consultation took place with the local community”.
Mullins then goes on to not only state that he, and presumably many local people, have “legitimate questions” with regard to all of this, but also refers to the International Protection Act 2015 which he correctly points out does not extend its scope to a country like Georgia because it is designated as a “safe country of origin.” On that basis, it is clear that applications for asylum from Georgia “should be declared inadmissible.”
The councillor poses the obvious and logical question based on that fact as to why such applications are deemed admissible in the first instance. This is common sense. Not the invention of the “far right” but the obvious conclusion that huge numbers of people in this country are drawing from the mess that has been created by allowing thousands of bogus asylum seekers to take advantage of the naïve systems that are in place here, and which have been broadcast internationally.
And Councillor Mullins’ solution also appears to echo the one favoured by a growing number of people: “Put then on the plane home.”
Now, if the media spin that echoes the NGO lobbyists and their pet soccer casuals is correct, then Mullins ought already to have been cast as a pariah into the outer darkness by his constituents who will possibly wake up this morning to find that someone on an “advocacy” gig has signed them all up to #PortarlingtonIsForAll.
Well, if the reaction on the interweb to Mullins’ status is any indication, I am afraid that #PortarlingtonIsForAll are going to have to type the town into their GPS so that their electrically charged rent a mob van can find the place. His comments seemed to receive the wholehearted support of his constituents.
What the reaction of his own party will be, shall also be of interest.
The Woke element’s natural instinct will be to have him apologise and/or be dumped out to make way for another opportunist who would never have considered joining Sinn Féin in Laois when it was neither safe nor profitable. The leadership, however, will hope that it goes away and maybe even cynically calculate that having such as Mulllins on board will keep them balanced on the two horses.
That, however, may depend on whether other parties decide to use Mullins as another stick to beat Mary Lou over the head with when the Dáil reassembles on Tuesday. They will hardly be able to resist.