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LETTER: Far too easy to be judgemental

May 12th, 2018 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – There are always stories when the issue of immigration into Ireland is discussed. By this, I mean the unbelievable suffering many refugees, for example, have undergone before they laid eyes on our little island. 

All those that I’ve met from foreign places who arrived here in distress, for the most part, are rarely looking for support because it is the pathway to a comfortable life, at the expense of the taxpayer or the State, generally. Their lives depended on being taken in here, to this safe haven.

I knew a man from Somalia for a couple of years, very gentle soul, yet not very well taken care of but for a small circle of mainly his own countrymen, while he was here. The State did for him what it could, but did not help with his broken heart and spirit.

He was quite often hurt that people were more interested in his ‘benefits’ status than in his reasons for being here.

His story is one of heartbreak – that of a young man from Mogadishu who was persecuted with threats of violence to join one of the paramilitary murder gangs or be himself killed. 

Beaten up every other day, his family scraped together enough money to send him abroad from there and he ended up in Ireland after a torturous two years of being sent from post to pillar during that period.

The last time we met he told me he was undertaking another frightful journey, that of trying to go back to Mogadishu in the hope of finding his family still alive, as he had not heard from them for a number of years.

 I never learned what became of him. 

I only knowthat he was a gentle human being who cared for his family in the same loving way as those of us who know nothing of the suffering of others also do.

I know a woman, a Croatian Serb, who when the civil war was tearing her country apart, had close family members slaughtered and she and her own little daughter, hid in a cellar for 11 days without food and alone, and sucked water from a wall where it seeped in, in order to stay alive.

She and her child survived and now live and work among us, yet we can easily overlook the horror refugees have seen and we need to understand – not to question – their being here as our first defence in any anti-immigration rhetoric

The neighbours who did this to that woman’s family still live in that same location, but she cannot.

There are ‘chancers’ everywhere, but that is a minority who may be on an adventure. I also knew someone who came here from Cameroon on a student visa and, after a few weeks, threw away the passport and claimed politic asylum, which was granted.

I was told this by that student to illustrate how clever they had been. I heard that same person say on radio how ‘racist’ we are in Ireland. 

People come in all shapes and sizes but we must always try to utilise our humanity when dealing with fellow humans. It does not matter that the few will try to profit from tricks and deceit when we think about the landing of people from overseas on our shores.

I’ve learned to either be quiet or to try to keep my references to immigration at the level of the personal terror so many of those who came here have endured and, by so doing, we may help rather than judge those who need us, regardless of colour or religion or nationality. These suffering people are amongst us nationwide.

We are all on Earth but for a short time, so much better to not nurture resentment.

Robert Sullivan,

Bantry.

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