Thousands of people gathered in central Dublin Saturday 12 Sept to take part in an emergency refugees are welcome march in response to the ongoing crisis of hundreds of thousands of people being trapped on the European borders and over 2,500 drowned this summer alone
Ireland is going to take about four thousand refugees. It's estimated this will cost us about 48 million. In comparison the Irish government is refusing to accept nineteen billion, that's nineteen thousand million in taxation from Apple
In fact its taking a case to the European courts to try and prevent Europe forcing Ireland to collect this nineteen billion in tax. Nineteen billion would actually be enough to fund 1.6 million refugees so you can imagine the amount of housing, hospitals, schools and everything else that could be created if we took that money off Apple and invested it. Of course that's not going to happen because as far as the Irish government is concerned the people they look are the super wealthy including the multinational corporations who are residents here for tax evasion purposes.
There is a housing crisis but there were 300,000 empty homes The reason we have a crisis is because our landlords and our speculators have boarded up those houses and are leaving them deliberately vacant in order to artificially inflate rents and push up mortgage prices. We would have no bother housing not only the four thousand refugees we are accepting but every single person in Ireland who lives in substandard accommodation. If we forced the landlords to open up those houses and make them available for use.
Irish people are no strangers to migration for every generation tens of thousands of us have migrated, mostly for work all over the world but in our history we also had a massive refugee crisis in the 1840s in what is called the Irish Famine. Not really a famine
because there was food here but it was being exported to pay for rents.
In the period of the famine something like one and a half million people died in Ireland and another one and a half million people had to emigrate. These people were subjected to exactly the sort of racist fear-mongering that we are seeing directed at Syrian refugees at the moment
Particularly in the USA there was a fear that the arriving Irish were religious violent extremists who would impose their religion on the country and switch the USA from being mostly Protestant country to mostly Catholic country. One of the sad things about the crisis today is seeing Irish people whose ancestors survived this famine actually repeating the same sort of racist garbage that was directed at their ancestors.
On the other hand huge numbers of Irish people have spontaneously organized to help refugees arriving here and also to organize convoys to the places in Europe where refugees are being gathered into camps particularly at Calais. At this stage there are dozens and dozens of people intending to go to such destinations.
One thing we've noticed here at Solidarity Times is that the people doing this organizing are very same people who previously had been organizing the homeless people here, for single parents and against Shell at Rossport
This gives us confidence for the future, it gives us great confidence that we will recognize that we are not an isolated country, that the problems we face are global. Climate change for instance does not stop at borders it needs a global solution.
We are all the same people, we must come together!
WORDS & VIDEO: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )