Refugees – Not quotas

Least we forget!

As our governments take their time to decide on a reasonable quota of refugees to welcome into our rich lands, these quota’s are washing up on beaches after drowning as a result of desperation.

I remember when we Irish had a way of welcoming people that was fondly remembered by those who visited this island. But for some reason…it’s changed.

‘100,000 welcomes’ was blazoned on every  tourist poster and website. After all, we ourselves were once welcomed in many a far-flung corner of the world since the 18th century as we fled from a level of poverty, famine and oppression on an unimaginable scale.

In places like Australia, Canada and America where the ‘Poor Paddy’ would eventually grow to the highest peaks of stature within society and politics. So much so that come election time in the US, Ireland seems to be a very popular place of ancestry.

Should we be thankful for the opportunity to thrive in these and many more countries after our time of need has passed? Ok, it’s not like we were actually welcomed when those of us who survived, disembarked from the ‘Coffin Ships’ into New York harbour for example.

The Irish were treated like the rats that arrived with them. They had to fight, beg, steal and learn to survive in those foreign lands.

But they did it. And did it well enough to grow political dynasties and provide stories that Hollywood could only dream of, and within only four generations.

So to my point.

Daily we watch thousands of people running from places like Syria and other war-torn, corrupt and genocidal countries. Hopelessly they stumble across the borders of Europe and beyond, paying their blackmail money to war criminals and people trafficker’s, boarding their make-shift coffin ships, risking death and detention at every turn.

Meanwhile the people’s politician’s of Europe debate the  acceptable quantities that would be ‘welcomed’ into each country.

Only today on Irish radio during my journey from east coast to west coast, as we hear of the latest bodies of men, women and children to wash up on a Mediterranean beach. The debate was why should we take in other nationalities now when we should look first look after our own homeless?

Fair point. But we should have been doing that anyway and under no circumstances should we forget the plight of the Irish children many moons ago.

The plight of these foreign children is the same.

We need to question ourselves right now and remember that the bubble that we ourselves’ live in did not always exist!

They should never feel like they are ‘Ourselves alone’!


(I wrote this post on Wednesday morning. On Thursday the Irish people had organised a mass rally in Dublin to encourage the government to move quickly to help these people. Eleven hundred people offered up their homes at the same time. Perhaps there is hope for us yet)!