2nd March 2021

United Against Racism Statement: Josh Dunne Tragedy

The killing of the 16 year old Josh Dunne from Ballymun in East Wall on Tuesday 26 January was an appalling tragedy. Josh was a talented young footballer with St.Kevin’s, very popular in his community with his whole life before him. All that has been ended by this terrible incident. United Against Racism sends its deepest condolences and sympathy to Josh’s mother, Diane, his family, friends, teammates, and all in his community who are mourning his passing.

United Against Racism does not and, at present, cannot know what exactly occurred in East Wall that night and we are not speculating on the details of what happened. Regardless of who did what it remains an utter tragedy that Josh lost his life.

But we also appeal to all concerned, to look at the wider picture involved. That bigger picture is of a potential conflict between two very disadvantaged groups in our society: on the one hand teenagers in working class communities; on the other hand underpaid and exploited Deliveroo Riders.

Both these groups have it very hard in our society. The teenagers have had their youth and community services cut to ribbons by austerity and face a future with few prospects with the risk of being preyed on by gangs and getting caught up in petty crime, which is certainly anti-social, but will also blight their own lives.

The Deliveroo Riders, many of them coming to Ireland as migrant workers from countries where social conditions are appalling, find themselves at the mercy of ruthless landlords who charge extortionate rents and forced to take on dangerous jobs for miserable wages. On top of that they often face attempted robbery and violent attacks.

It would only compound the tragedy of Josh Dunne’s death if it were to escalate the conflict between these two disadvantaged groups through attempts at any sort of individual or collective revenge. Rather we would urge people of goodwill from both groups to come together, talk to each other and seek a common way forward. If United Against Racism is able to facilitate this in any way we would be pleased to do so.

That way forward could include a substantial donation by Deliveroo from its vast profits to, for example, St Kevin’s Football Club and to Sport Against Racism Ireland to extend their ‘Socrates’ project. It could also include improved pay, conditions, sickness benefits and safety equipment provided by the company for its workers and an end to the practice of phony self-employment. We note that Deliveroo operated in 200 cities in 12 countries worldwide, had revenues of £476 million in 2018 and officially employs 2,300 workers but in reality employs something like 36,000 ‘self-employed’ couriers.

Finally, United Against Racism appeals to everyone involved to approach this whole situation in the spirit of the great Brazilian footballer, Socrates, who always stood for unity, solidarity and social justice.

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