21st September 2019

Opinion: Rooskey Arson Attack

We should be happy to hear that from opposition councillors, local business people to Minister for Justice Mr. Flanagan, many are concerned about the racist arson attack in Rooskey. Good to hear these concerns! We are all in this then. Our minds are somewhere between ‘concerned’ and ‘outraged’. Those of us outraged and involved in anti-racism campaigns try to work hard to confront racism and build networks of solidarity. Our anti-racism work is part of our wider struggle for a better future.

But those like Mr. Flanagan are not just ordinary citizens. They can do more, a lot more than just being ‘concerned’. In fact they don’t have to be concerned. They don’t have the luxury to say ‘I am concerned’.

Let us start with the most basic stuff

  1. Mr Flanagan’s government can end Direct Provision System and give asylum seekers full right to work, right to education and social benefits and residency. But Mr. Flanagan thinks this makes Ireland a soft touch; therefore, implying that asylum seekers are not victims forced out of their lands but opportunists seeking weaknesses in our immigration policies.
  2. Housing crisis is always used by the racists as an excuse to attack migrants/refugees. Mr. Flanagan’s governments could have build homes in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. They didn’t. They can still declare housing emergency and start building #HomesForAll in 2019. While at it his government can also make sure culturally appropriate accommodation and living environments are provided for all Travellers.
  3. While all that is happening, for temporary accommodation centres such as in Rooskey, Department for Justice can always be a lot more respectful to the locals by government providing new public services, more facilities for all, such as more schools, heath facilities, more GP services, community centres, better public bus/train services to these towns etc. In the previous arson attack in Moville residents were outraged against racism but also explained how services such as GP/health services were so insufficient in the area.

Mr. Flanagan repeats that no one has ever provided him with a better alternative and therefore his government believes that direct provision is the best solution. It’s like saying no one has provided a better alternative to homelessness therefore keep going with the housing crisis is the best option.

Direct Provision is not an isolated policy of the Irish state and its governments. It’s linked to the EU/Irish immigration system; based on a deep running institutional racism and the housing and other social/economic policies of FF/FG lead neoliberal ideology. There are alternatives to this profit driven isolationist racist system of direct provision. But Mr. Flanagan should first recognise you don’t cure cancer with pain killers.

There are problems and none of these are the makings of asylum seekers.

Memet Uludag

National Organiser, United Against Racism

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