"Ukraine is not the only war on our planet": the minister defends the process of housing asylum seekers

“Ukraine is not the only war on our planet”: the minister defends the process of housing asylum seekers

Ireland does not make decisions on the protection of victims of war and torture on the basis of gender, Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman has said, amid continued protests and criticism over the placement of single men in accommodation in Dublin’s East Wall area.

Mr. O’Gorman said there are wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as in Ukraine.

“Just as Ireland offers protection to women and children, we also offer protection to men, because men too face torture and persecution.”

The minister was responding in the Dáil on Tuesday as rural independent Mattie McGrath criticized “buses full of young men arriving in an area in the middle of the night and being placed in industrial buildings”.

It comes as Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe has called for a limit on the number of Ukrainians entering its Clare constituency, with the quality of services now down and capacity “exceeded”. Such a decision would go against government policy.

“We have done everything we can so far to help, arms have been opened wide. But I think you get to a point where the capacity to help is reached, in fact it can be exceeded and I now believe we are at that point in Co Clare, ”he told Clare FM.

Asked if he thinks there should be a cap, he told the broadcaster: “I think so and I’ve said that, I guess, to government colleagues as well.”

“There are other countries not doing their part, we want to do a lot more in Ireland, but right now there is no shame in us as a county and in us as a country saying that we have done everything we can – and we want to do more – but right now the capacity in terms of health care, transport, accommodation has not only been reached but has been exceeded”, a- he declared.

Earlier Independent Senator Sharon Keogan was accused of ‘taking a dog whistle approach’ when she said Ireland ‘does not have the structural capacity to accommodate tens of thousands of migrants through year”.

She claimed that “large crowds of migrants” were bussed into predominantly working-class neighborhoods and then “left to roam the cities and engage in anti-social behavior such as fighting or harassment.”

Ms Keogan slammed government policy as ‘irrelevant’ and said ‘something has to change’, calling for ‘adult conversation’, a calm debate where everyone can have their say.

McGrath also said the transfer of young men was happening in different parts of the country and he called for a re-examination of how the dispersal of refugees and asylum seekers across the state is handled.

The Tipperary TD said authorities must listen to communities and warned against local people being told “how to behave”.

But Mr O’Gorman told him that 64,000 people had been housed, many of whom were fleeing war in Ukraine. However, he pointed out that more than 17,000 of them “are men, women and children fleeing wars elsewhere. Ukraine is not the only war on our planet right now.

He said the state offered protection to men as well as women because men too were tortured and persecuted, and decisions were made after people went through a process to apply for international protection.

Ms Keogan, who was heckled as she made her comments in the Upper House, said ‘the government will not turn away migrants for fear of being branded racist, xenophobic or indifferent’.

The government had to spend millions “to rent hotels and convert office buildings in the Greater Dublin area and surrounding counties, almost exclusively in areas that have always been working-class towns and/or suburbs or satellite towns “.

She said “large crowds of migrants” were then moved into these areas with little or no warning or communication with local communities.

Senator Meath added that “migrants receive a few paltry meals a day and are left to fend for themselves.

“It seems that in many cases they are left to roam the cities and engage in anti-social behavior such as fighting or bullying.”

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne accused her of ‘taking a dog whistle approach’, while Seanad leader Regina Doherty said Ms Keogan was ‘making unsubstantiated allegations against people who came here to seek refuge in war-torn countries”. They have nowhere to go. »

But Ms Keogan said ‘we don’t have the homes or the health system’ or the transport infrastructure to cope with the number of migrants.

Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile accused Ms Keogan of “quite dangerous” rhetoric which was “normally used by the far right”.

Insisting that “Ireland is by no means full”, the Belfast-based senator said Ms Keogan needed to understand the difference between a migrant and an asylum seeker or refugee.

“People who come here to flee conflict, war and climate devastation in their countries and communities must certainly be prepared and empowered for this.

“The vast majority of communities are open to this and ready to open their arms to refugees and asylum seekers,” he said.

Migrants come to work in the healthcare and hospitality sector, he added. He said he was “well ready for adult conversation but I want it to be grounded in reality and facts”.

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