Debate On Immigration


Sir, - I have just completed a year's world travel during which I was shown the utmost courtesy and kindness by everyone I met. We in Ireland also have a well earned reputation for hospitality, not to mention our practical compassion for those in need, at home or abroad. I am therefore saddened to note the increasing suspicion and in some cases outright hatred being expressed at the alleged "alarming" increase in the numbers of foreign nationals seeking political asylum here. With this in mind I would make the following observations.

Whether those entering the country are legal (political) or illegal (economic) refugees is a matter for the Government, which so far has failed to implement the necessary structures to process claims quickly.

Even those deemed economic refugees cannot be blamed for seeking a better life for their loved ones. Economic slavery is just as oppressive as political slavery. The two issues are directly related.

Thousands of Irish people have travelled to the US illegally over the years, where we set up support groups and lobbied the American government on their behalf.

Ireland does not have a disproportionately high number of refugees compared with other states. Denmark, with a population similar to our own, has about 48,000 refugees compared with our 5,000.

Refugees are forced to depend on the State while their applications are processed. Meanwhile, many sectors of Irish industry simply cannot fill their vacancies.

I'm not advocating a complete "open door" policy. But let's put in place the necessary structures to deal with the issues as they arise, quickly, calmly and justly. While addressing the issue of refugees, let us not forget to continue striving to uphold the dignity and respect of all our own people. These two goals need not be mutually exclusive. - Yours, etc., Pat J. McKinley,

Brian Road, Marino, Dublin 3.