Asylum seekers' case

 

Madam, - In her article of December 13th, Lorna Siggins wrote about two women, from Angola and South Africa, with Irish-born children, who had received deportation notices, and who were to give a presentation to the Galway City Council, asking it to pass a motion that would call upon the government not to use the Nationality and Citizenship Bill to break up families.

I accompanied these two women to the City Hall on Monday evening, where I witnessed the most abject and despicable piece of politicking I could have imagined.

Councillors had already found in front of them a circular letter from an anti-immigration pressure group, using Ms Siggins's article to fabricate a xenophobic rant against any reception by the council of a pair of "illegals".

The public gallery was full and the two women were nervously waiting to be called across to the council table, when suddenly a certain newly elected councillor - no doubt fine-tuning his debating skills with legalistic, esoteric, jesuitical finesse on his climb to the Dáil - thought fit to argue that for the council to hear the women even mention their deportation notices might itself be "illegal", and that therefore their presentation should be abandoned.

I am sure he will insist he was only concerned with procedural exactitude and will deny he was playing a racist card under the influence of the malodorous circular letter.

But he was certainly very anxious to scare councillors away from the issue.

Happily, the Mayor, Cllr Connolly, refused to play his game of hypothetical illegalities.

With the unanimous consent of the other councillors, the presentation did take place.

The two women spoke with so much dignity that at the end of their statements there was a burst of spontaneous applause from the council.

And who was the mischief-making councillor?

I was astonished to recognise a member of Sinn Féin, the party of the enlightened New Politics, who had been canvassing the very ward where the two women live as an opponent of the citizenship referendum.

His party claims to abhor "humiliation"; yet for the sake of a stroke against his rivals in the Labour Party, he was willing to humiliate and invalidate two of his most vulnerable constituents who (for all he knew) had voted to put him where he was. - Yours, etc.,

MARGARETTA D'ARCY, St Bridget's Place Lower, Galway.