Please be respectful when talking about refugees

February 20th, 2023 8:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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EDITOR – We, in Doras, are calling on all Cork politicians, commentators and others with influence to avoid the use of language that sends negative messages about asylum seekers and refugees.

In recent days, Doras has seen a number of politicians use terms like ‘illegal’ that call into question the right of some people to seek international protection or asylum.

Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right, and everyone who does so is by definition lawfully resident in our State.

References by government politicians and others to people arriving illegally only add to the confusion that might exist amongst the public, and plays into the discourse of the far right. We have had gangs chanting ‘get them out’ and ‘burn them out’ outside accommodation centres with innocent people, including children, looking out in fear and confusion. 

This is not the type of Ireland most of us want. The government has a responsibility to keep asylum seekers safe while they are in the care of the State. 

With this in mind, they should communicate the rights of refugees and asylum seekers clearly through a national campaign and ensure communities are fully informed, rather than relying on what is often misinformation shared online by those with their own agendas.

It is also important to remember that many people escaping from war, persecution or exploitation may not be in a position to present identity documents when they arrive in Ireland, such is the nature of fleeing from a war zone or a crisis. We’re talking about people we work with every day, including victims of trafficking, and those who have undertaken horrendous journeys over land and sea, which in some cases results in documents being lost or stolen. It’s the grim reality regardless of how some opportunistic voices seek to spin it.

The government needs to invest in putting the necessary resources in place to process asylum applications fairly, efficiently and properly.

We also need to avoid misplaced commentary about asylum seekers being ‘unvetted’ in the media and elsewhere. Vetting is a process that people who work or volunteer with children and vulnerable adults go through. Asylum seekers don’t need to be vetted – their identity, where they came from, and a lot more detail is all documented in their application for international protection.

Protests organised or hijacked by the far right in response to the expected arrival of asylum seekers are now springing up around the country. This is despite the fact that the majority of people in Ireland are open and welcoming.

Communities are key to effective integration, and must be given the resources to ensure refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed and supported.

John Lannon,

Chief executive,


O’Connell Street, Limerick.

Climate change: polluting countries should pay

EDITOR – There is an old proverb ‘whoever pays the piper calls the tune’ which if applied to climate change means, that the countries who are calling the tune are the ones that are polluting the global atmosphere, and must therefore pay the piper for the enormous damage they are doing to the planet that we all share.

According to research prepared for the United Nations Environment Research Program: In 2021, 61.3% of all global CO2 emissions were emitted into the atmosphere from six countries. It’s even more astonishing that three of the biggest polluting countries, including, China (at 30.9% of all global emissions) United States (at 13.5%) and India (at 7.3%) totalling 51.7% of all global C02 emissions in 2021. Three of the lessor polluting countries include Russia (4.7%) Japan (2.9%) and Iran (2.0%)

 It is also extraordinary that a highly developed country like the US had in 2021 the highest carbon footprint per capita in the world at 14.24 metric tons of C02.This is over three times greater than the global per capita average of 4.69 metric tons. Some climate activist associates this high carbon footprint to the grossly affluent and excessive life style of many US citizens, plus their use of large fuel guggling vehicles.

According to UNICEF, a diametrically opposite scene can be found in the horn of Africa, where climate change induced drought across large swathes of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, has unleashed hunger, thirst, displacement and death on already vulnerable communities as crops fail and livestock die. By early October 2022, some 8.5 million people – 4.2 million of them children – were facing famine and starvation due to climate change induced drought At COP 27 which was held in Egypt in 2022, a huge effort by African countries with strong support from the EU, managed to push through a proposal to establish a Loss & Damage fund. However, there is no time-line for the actual delivery of this fund, which will bring no immediate relief to the countries who are currently facing climate induced famine.

Clearly the main polluting countries have a moral and humanitarian obligation to pay-up for the huge damage they are inflicting on African and other affected countries, as well as drastically reducing their emissions in order to contain climate change and ensure that humanity can continue to survive in planet earth.

Diarmuid Cohalan,


Teenagers tormented man in town square

EDITOR – I was in the square in Bantry last Saturday evening at around 8pm. My children and I were sitting at the tables near a pizza shop next to the Bantry Bay Hotel. 

In one of the hotel’s unused doorways sat an old man, surrounded by his bags and muttering to himself but seemingly oblivious to passers-by.

Around this time some teenagers, aged 14-15 years, arrived in the square in various groups. It seemed they were, possibly, waiting for a bus to go somewhere. Some were drinking alcohol from cans, but they were all well behaved.

About six of these children crossed the street and made a beeline for the old man. Some laughter and indistinct jeering passed between the teenagers and the object of their attention. As the old man rose to reprimand his tormentors, one of them knocked the cap off his head. The group turned from him to leave as he fumbled to retrieve his headwear.  

As the laughing group reached the edge of the wide footpath, the bravest of these children turned and spat at the old man. 

They then crossed the road to their friends, the majority of whom were unaware of what had just happened. 

(Name and address with the editor)



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