Why are Small Groups of Fermoy Locals Protesting Against Asylum Seekers?
Why are Irish people protesting in Fermoy? Well, Derek Blighe, the founder of Ireland First, a grassroots movement whose axiom is decisions made by the Rialtas no hÉireann must benefit the people of Ireland, went from east to south to protest the housing of ‘military aged male’ asylum seekers on the island. Reports continue to surface that locals are concerned about the lack of consultation with the community ahead of housing male asylum seekers in East Wall, Wicklow, and Fermoy.
Why Are Irish People Protesting in East Wall?
Alison O’Reilly, whose video garnered 45.4K views on Twitter, says 300 protesters have blocked the Port Tunnel and adjoining East Wall road in Dublin over asylum seekers moving into the area. Another Irish voice, Brian J. Sutherland, believes the protests “are a result of a decision by the Irish or UK government to allow, what appears to be an unlimited number of aliens in, without any kind of due diligence as to the housing and other needs of families and individuals already living here.”
Others contend the Port Tunnel protest is organised by the far right, who is preying on society’s struggles and weaponising legitimate social issues, such as medical care and the housing crisis in Ireland.
Why Are Irish People Protesting in Fermoy?
The Fermoy protests are rooted in humanitarianism—that “everyone should have a home,” whether they are Irish or Fermoy refugees. “War and oppression, and poverty and religions or state intimidation” are all causes people seek refuge, says one speaker at the Fermoy Refugee Welcome Event. According to another Fermoy resident, the event was to show “we are a country of a thousand welcomes, not insular, suspicious and racist”—a charge launched against the anti-asylum movement at East Wall. This seems to be the reason why Irish people are protesting in Fermoy.
No Consultation Redundancy – Anti-immigrant Position
Several of the anti-immigration protesters are concerned parents against what they call “no homes for the Irish,” alleged “unprovoked attacks” on women, and a no consultation redundancy from politicians. They also believe majority of the individuals coming to Ireland are economic migrants—foreign nationals who emigrate to Ireland to improve their standard of living because job opportunities in their home country are insufficient. Further, they contend most asylum seekers are not fleeing war in Ukraine. There is also the notion that asylum seekers are not being finger-printed at the Irish border.
Housing Crisis Ireland – Pro-Immigrant Position
However, Paul Murphy argues that “responsibility for this housing crisis…does not lie at all with people who are fleeing from war and persecution.” In Murphy’s opinion, the housing emergency “lies with the developers who are sitting on vacant land; the landlords who are hiking rent; and lies with the government that presides over a system which encourages all of that.” In regards to the unprovoked attacks on Irish women by migrant men, the Togher Gardai officers have stated they are not seeing reports, at least in Cork, on this concern. Togher Gardai has further stated if these attacks are happening, women need to come forward.
Must One Flee War to Seek International Protection?
Anti-immigrant protesters in Ireland are likely referring to subsidiary protection when they argue non-Ukrainian asylum seekers are not fleeing war. On the authority of the UNHCR, subsidiary protection means that an individual cannot be returned to their country of origin because they face (i) the death penalty or execution; (ii) torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (iii) serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in a situation of international or internal armed conﬂict.
They have a point in thinking that fleeing war is the only ground on which one can claim asylum. However, there are other grounds. According to the UNHCR, international protection refers to both refugee and subsidiary protection statuses. A person who claims asylum in Ireland is seeking international protection from persecution or serious harm in their home country. An asylum seeker can launch a claim against their country on one, multiple, or all enumerated grounds: race, membership of a particular social group, political opinion, nationality, and religion.
While the community’s concerns about economic migration should not be dismissed, protesting in front of asylum housing centres may not be the most effective way to address the problem. First, asylum seekers do not have the authority to speak for Ireland on economic issues. Second, more research is needed to better understand why foreign nationals flee their home countries, and if the purpose of migration is a financial one. Third, an individual may flee their home country based on an enumerated ground that intersect with an economic issue. For instance, a woman may flee her country because a law may bar women from being employed. If this is the case, a woman may need to flee because (1) she is a woman (gender), (2) she has taken a stance against the government (political), and because (3) she seeks employment (economic). This leads one to believe that determining who constitutes an economic migrant can be a daunting one.
Why are Small Groups of Fermoy Locals Protesting Against Asylum Seekers? Migrant Fight Back?
The truth of the matter is all adult asylum seekers are being finger-printed when they arrive in Ireland. This is done by the Eurodact system. During this process, an asylum seeker’s fingerprints are compared with fingerprint data transmitted by other participating States stored in the central database. According to the European Commission, if Eurodac shows that the fingerprints have already been recorded, the asylum seeker can be sent back to the country where their fingerprints were originally taken.
One can agree up to a certain point with the argument that foreign nationals from certain regions have not been vetted. However, it is argued here that doing so in many cases would undermine the humanitarian function of asylum, as legitimate asylum seekers often flee persecution meted out by State Agents. If a host country relied on information from an individual’s host country to determine whether one should gain entry, this would likely undercut Ireland’s negative obligations under international law.
For now, it seems, from east to south, housing demonstrations will continue on the streets of Ireland.If you enjoyed the balanced take on the recent Ireland protests or, would like to counter-argue the points made in this article, be sure to contact me below.