Homelessness and asylum-seekers

 

Sir, – Here’s a radical thought. The homeless crisis has absolutely nothing to do with the 55 asylum-seekers arriving in Killarney (Home News, December 18th). Nothing.

It does, however, have everything to do with the “divide and conquer” tactics which pit one vulnerable group against another for the dubious prize of emergency accommodation in a hostel.

My heart sank watching the group of 30 people march asking the Government to “Look after our own first” outside a new accommodation centre for asylum-seekers in Killarney.

The concerns of the protesters are valid; house the Irish homeless.

But so too are the lives of the 55 people inside the hostel who must make Ireland their home out of fear, not out of choice.

Denied the right to work and be self-sufficient, asylum-seekers in Ireland are not given the same chance as everyone else to be full members of society, thus after leaving direct provision hostels many remain hidden and disengaged from “mainstream” society.

As someone who spends most days working with and writing about immigrants in Ireland, this protest was not a surprise to me, and unfortunately it won’t be the last we see.

Anti-immigrant feeling is on the rise across Europe and the US, something which thus far Ireland has avoided.

It is not because of immigrants, “refugees”, “asylum-seekers” and other labelled people that we have a homeless crisis. It is the astronomical price of rent in cities and the Government’s systemic disengagement with building social housing.

If steps are not taken to alleviate the mounting tensions rising over renting in Ireland then each minority group will soon be protesting against the other, with fear and hatred festering in the background – which is a recipe for rising racist incidents and increasing anti-refugee discourse. – Yours, etc,

ROSIE SOUTHGATE,

PhD Candidate,

Department of Geography ,

UCC,

Cork.