Oppose Callely's attacks on Asylum Seekers

Winter 1999/2000

Dublin North Central Fianna Fail TD, Ivor Callely, has issued yet another disgraceful attack on asylum seekers. His views on this issue do not represent the views of the vast majority of Irish people or of the voters of Dublin North Central.

In his latest outburst, Mr. Callely has called on the government to "get tough" on asylum seekers and "throw out" what he refers to as "illegal immigrants". Claiming that Ireland has become a "soft target", he has said that asylum seekers are coming here to "cash in on the benefits available".

Two years ago, Mr. Callely accused asylum seekers of begging off their neighbours and "carrying on a culture that is not akin to Irish culture", such as the "bleeding of lambs in the back garden".

The seriousness of Mr. Callely's remarks is compounded by the fact that he is currently chairperson of the Eastern Health Board - the body responsible for providing accommodation for asylum seekers. His comments come at a time of increased reports of

racist attacks and abuse. Statements such as these will lead to increased racism and provide those who carry out such attacks with a sense of justification. Mr. Callely should immediately resign as chairperson of the Eastern Health Board

The facts:

* The number of asylum seekers who come to Ireland is tiny by international standards. In fact the vast majority of refugees in the world today (90%) have left one Developing World country for another. Less than 10% make their way to the developed countries of the Northern hemisphere. Of these only approximately 1% make their way to Ireland

* The number of asylum seekers coming to Ireland is also tiny by comparison to the large numbers of Irish people forced to emigrate from Ireland throughout the 1980s. In fact even if the current rate of immigration were to continue, it would take twelve years to equal the numbers of Irish people who left for the US during the 1980s.

* Homelessness and poverty existed in Ireland long before the arrival of asylum seekers. The growth in homelessness in Dublin is directly attributable to the failure of government and the local authorities to build anything approaching a sufficient amount of public housing over the past decade, and to land speculation by so-called "developers" .

* Asylum seekers are only entitled to the same benefits as homeless Irish people - Supplementary Welfare Allowance. The fact that unscrupulous landlords and hostel owners are cashing in on the housing crisis and charging huge rents for often overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation is not the fault of the asylum seekers forced to put up with these conditions. This situation could immediately be resolved by diverting some of the huge Budget Surplus to an emergency housebuilding programme aimed at providing decent housing for all - Irish and asylum seeker alike.

Ivor Callely's views on asylum seekers are not shared by the vast majority of people who he claims to represent. We urge you to contact him and let him know that we do not want to turn Ireland into the nation of emigrants which rejects immigrants. His phone number is 8330350

Leaflet issued by Anti Racism Campaign c/o 10 Upper Camden St., Dublin 2. Tel. 087-2338143 or 087-6996046.

Part of the Anti - Racism Campaigns web site