A LOCAL politician has experessed their disappointment at comments made by Cork South West TD Michael Collins in relation to immigrants.
Evie Nevin of the Social Democrats said Deputy Collins’ comments are not a true reflection of how people in West Cork think. ‘We have a massive population of immigrants in West Cork,’ she said. ‘The melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds makes it wonderfully unique and diverse. We have close knit communities that include immigrants. They have been welcomed with open arms and have contributed greatly to our society.’
She was responding to comments by Deputy Collins in various media outlets and on Virgin Media’s ‘Tonight’ programme, following the protests regarding a possible direction provision centre in Oughterard, Co Galway.
‘In my own constituency office I see people who have to sleep in their cars or in camper vans. We’ve a plethora of issues we need to look after here first,’ Deputy Collins told The Southern Star last week, adding: ‘And if people want to call me racist because of that view, I’m not one bit worried. It’s a fact. Our government are just ticking boxes and trying to make themselves look good when in fact these asylum seekers are often being treated inhumanely and it’s not good enough.’
Evie, a daughter of an English immigrant, and a candidate in last May’s local elections, said that while Ireland is ‘in crisis’, it is ‘not the fault of immigrants’.
She added: ‘Instead of people pointing the finger at immigrants, they need to be pointing the finger at our elected representatives. People have very legitimate concerns about lack of resources and services in our communities. But, again, this is a result of the policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, not people who just want to build a life for themselves where they won’t be persecuted.’
She said there are now 5,000 empty houses in West Cork alone, according to the CSO. ‘There is room for everyone, both Irish and our new friends,’ she said.
Evie, who volunteers in a local direct provision centre, criticised the comments of Galway West TD Noel Grealish. ‘I don’t think anyone who has spent time speaking with the people that live there would agree with Deputy Grealish about Christian Syrians being the only legitimate asylum seekers and that African people come here to sponge off the system. Nobody comes here with a dream to live in tiny rooms with their families for years, waiting 15 hours between dinner and breakfast and to survive on €31 a week. Many of these people are highly educated. they were doctors, teachers and scientists before they came here looking for refuge. We are short people in all these professions and yet, most are not allowed to work.’
Evie added: ‘I am one of the one-in-six people in Ireland who live on the breadline. I have had to travel abroad for healthcare. I am waiting years for suitable accommodation for my disability but I would never blame immigrants for these issues. They are not responsible. I blame our government.’