The curious tale of Our Table, and immigration from Malawi

The Taste of Dublin food festival began in the Iveagh Gardens yesterday, Wednesday September 1st. It represents a welcome opportunity for the beleaguered sector to showcase itself as restrictions have begun to be lifted, with qualifications.

One of the features is the presentation of food and cooking from a group of migrants currently in Direct Provision. This has been organised by a group calling itself Our Table whose stated aim is to highlight Direct Provision and help to provide employment opportunities for those living in same. It was founded in December 2017 and shares the same address as the Irish Refugee Council, and declared an income of €81,044 for 2019.

Its directors are Rueben Hambakachere and Ellie Tayanjana Kisyombe. One of the co-founders was Michelle Darmody, who founded the Cake Café, writes for the Irish Examiner and was involved with the drag event Alternative Miss Ireland.

Kisyombe, whom the Phoenix magazine described as being from “a well-to-do Malawian family” is a member of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland and was involved in an unseemly internal dispute in the Social Democrats over her selection to run in the last local elections in the north inner city.  Una Mullaly of the Irish Times was one of her supporters. She took just 312 votes but was interviewed on her support for Black Lives Matter after the events in the United States in 2020.

Hambakachere is employed as a transitional project officer with Cultúr, which is based in Navan, employed 10 people in 2019 and received €278,112 of its €292,642 funding to pay their wages from the state.

So, Our Table is not just some cookery class that was thrown together by people living in Direct Provision. It is very much part of Ireland’s well-funded NGO-industrial complex, and run by seasoned political activists, who have long been dedicated to advancing the case for much less stringent immigration, as well as the abolition of direct provision. In that of course they have been overwhelmingly successful having secured a promised amnesty for what might well turn out to be tens of thousands of “undocumented”, that is illegal, immigrants here.

Indeed it is notable that two of the people mentioned in a report of the Taste of Dublin intervention are from Zimbabwe and Malawi, neither of which are considered to be unsafe countries for the purposes of seeking international protection here, and applicants from both of those countries have an extremely high rate of failure.

And yet, both Kisypmbe and the Malawian cook living in Direct Provision have been here since 2011 and 2012. Malawi for those of you unfamiliar with the country, is a multi party democracy that has no armed conflict, nor is rated as being particularly dangerous for anyone. It has a reputation for corruption, which is associated with the ruling elite. Corruption is obviously not grounds for asylum.

Indeed few Malawians do leave the country to seek asylum, and I have no idea on what grounds they do so. In 2020 there were apparently just 188 applications around the world from Malawians, and 86.2% of these were rejected. The highest number was in South Africa and none were accepted.

Ireland, for some reason, had 47 applications from Malawian citizens, more than in Britain. Germany and the United States. How would you even get here directly from Malawi? 32 were rejected, but the statistics on appeals show that another 12 were accepted with the remainder presumably – given that there are hardly any deportations even of the most dubious arrivals from anywhere in the world – still here and in the process of what would appear to be an endless and it would seem, with the Government’s Amnesty plan, now guaranteed successful series of appeals.

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