Anarchist News

No 19 Dec. 1998

No deportations

...there are no 'fair hearings'

Today's march, organised by the Asylum Rights Alliance, calls on the government to implement a fair and fast asylum procedure in Ireland. This seems like a sensible policy - refugees seeking asylum in Ireland often have to wait two or three years before a decision is made on their case. During this time they are not allowed to work or study, making them dependent on social welfare.

Some cases are decided faster - like the 47 Roma who were threatened with deportation a few short months after they arrived. The Department of Justice was able to move so fast on their cases because it broke all of its own rules, not even interviewing one of the women it wanted to deport. And the government still refuses to provide translation for refugees, or fund legal aid.

But what sort of 'fairness' can we expect from a government that prevents people from working and then labels them 'scroungers'. That has already decided that 90% of refugees are going to be deported? The fact is that, unless they have money, refugees are always going to get a raw deal from the government, just like the Irish poor. Ireland has one of the highest poverty rates in the developed world, and successive governments have 'dealt' with this by creating ghettos of high unemployment, poor housing and education, and then ignoring them when drugs and crime ran riot. These are the people we want to be 'fair' to refugees?

Hundreds of thousands of Irish people have had to leave Ireland in the past, fleeing starvation, poverty and unemployment, and looking for a chance for a better life. Today, our government would call them 'economic migrants'. The fight for the rights of refugees is part of the fight against poverty. Its time we stopped letting politicians divide us, and its time YOU got involved.

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Dublin 'Justice for Abu-Jamal' campaign is holding a protest outside the US embassy in Ballsbridge on Monday December 7th from 6-7pm

Mumia Abu-Jamal is on death row in the USA. He is a former Black Panther, who was framed on a murder charge in 1981. It is expected that he will be given an execution date early in the new year. In 1995 when the US authorities last tried to kill Jamal, international protests - including in Ireland - played a part in winning a stay of execution.

Getting involved in the anti-racism struggle

You took the time and trouble to march today. Demonstrations show there is an opposition to racism, that many of us want to do something about it. Now we have to move on from protesting against racism, to building a movement that can stop the racists in their tracks.

The government and the newspaper owners have been on the offensive. Deportations are happening, and are increasing in number. In so far as the media promote any debate, it is usually no more than a question of whether John O'Donoghue is doing a great job or whether there should be a "fair hearing" given to asylum seekers before most of them are kicked out anyway.

And let us be clear, the issue is not one of resources (no shortage of these when it is a beef baron turns up at Leinster House with his begging bowl), nor is it one of "overpopulation" (this is the same Ireland which exported almost half of its school leavers in the 1980s).

If you are Arab, African, Asian or Romanian you are a "problem" to be contained, regulated and expelled. There is no such hysteria if you are American, Canadian or Australian. The difference? Colour and accent. Racist? Of course it is.

We need to win the argument with our friends and neighbours for the free movement of people; and for a redistribution of wealth so that we are not played off against each other on the basis of colour. Everyone should be entitled to a decent job and an pleasant place to live. The country is awash with money, the question is who gets it? Will it be spent on affordable housing and socially useful jobs or will it go on more handouts ("incentives") to the rich?

The ruling class always want to divide us. In the North they separate us into 'Catholic' and 'Protestant'. Before the last election in the South Mary Harney and the PDs tried to scapegoat single parents. Now they want us to see 'foreigners' as a threat.

Nobody is going to fight racism for us. Practically all the political parties have been in government recently (Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Progressive Democrats, Labour and Democratic Left). They all had a chance to show what they would really do if given a chance. All of them denied asylum seekers the right to work, all maintained strict border controls, all deported people.

What's needed is a campaign that won't waste its energies making fruitless appeals to politicians, but will seek to win the anti-racist argument in our workplaces, colleges and communities. We will then be in a position where we can put real pressure on the government and can obstruct their plans for mass deportations.

This can't be done by those 'campaigns' which are simply fronts for political parties (the Anti Nazi League is 'owned' by the Socialist Workers Party and Students Against Racism by the Socialist Party). A broader movement, truly controlled by its members, of anti-racists who oppose deportations and call for decent jobs and homes for all regardless of colour or nationality, needs to be built.

Groups like Immigrant Solidarity in Cork and the Anti-Racism Campaign in Dublin have started the work of door-to-door leafletting, public meetings and street protests against deportations. They have done a lot, but could do a lot more if people like you joined with them. Why not check them out:

Immigrant Solidarity:
P.O. Box 178, Cork [Meets every Monday night at 8pm at the Middle Parish Community Hall, Grattan Street - near the Courthouse. All Welcome.]

Mid-West Against Racism:
Kings Island Youth & Community Centre, Verdant Place, Kings Island, Limerick. [Meets every Wednesday at 7.00pm in King's Island Youth & Community Centre. All Welcome.]

Anti Racism Campaign:
c/o Comhlamh, 10 Upper Camden Street. [Meets every Wednesday night at 8pm in the Vietnamese Centre, Hardwicke Street - one minute from Parnell Square. All welcome.]

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