Labour Minister opposes ‘upper limit’ for refugees
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin says we must stand up and respond to refugees in humane way
Phaw Shee and her daughter Say Law La at the Migrant Women – Shared Experiences exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough, Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said no “upper limit” must be put on the number of refugees accepted in Ireland because this crisis is an evolving “emergency”.
He was speaking in Castlebar, Co Mayo, yesterday at the launch of an exhibition entitled Migrant Women – Shared Experiences at the National Museum of Ireland: Country Life.
It juxtaposes their contemporary experiences with those of Irish women who fled the Famine in coffin ships.
“At this moment, we must stand up and accept these refugees and respond in a humane way to the thousands who want to come here and not put an upper limit on it,” Mr Ó Ríordáin said.
His criticisms of the shortcomings of the direct-provision system were echoed by some of the women whose stories are told in the exhibition.
Phaw Shee and her daughter Say Law La (13) are from the Karen community in Burma.
They spent several years in Ban Don Yang camp before coming to Ireland under a refugee programme.
Their family arrived with all their belongings in a striped plastic bag which is now part of the exhibition.
“I just wish that the Syrians and others fleeing their countries are offered the same as us: a place to live and a safe environment,” Say Law La said.
She was at a direct-provision hostel in Ballyhaunis for four years.
“If I could talk to the Taoiseach I would say: ‘Please do not put these poor people in direct-provision hostels.’ People must be integrated quickly and not locked up in these hostels,” she said.
“We have so much to contribute to Irish society. I am a proud Mayo woman now.”