West Cork TDs urged to take stand against racism

June 27th, 2020 11:40 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Ellen Somers

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A West Cork psychology student has written to the three TDs in Cork South West asking them to take a stand against racism at home and abroad.

Ellen Somers, a student at UCD, told The Southern Star she is interested in the opinions, and the output, of the three TDs in the constituency.

She previously ran a young voters’ event in Skibbereen in run-up to the general election, but it is the murder of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis on May 25th last that has led her to call on the TDs to be an example to others, to renounce racism, and to put an end to direct provision centres.

Ellen Somers wrote to Michael Collins (Ind), Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) and Holly Cairns (SD) to complain that the Irish government’s response to the protests in the US has been ‘non-existent.’

She suggested that a lack of action and advocacy throughout society, including rural communities, is ‘a conscious choice to turn a blind eye to racism.’

Ellen called on each of the TDs to lobby their own party leaders, or grouping, and to ‘explicitly denounce the actions of the US government.’

She also called on the Government to specifically denounce the actions of Donald Trump for his use of force to suppress anti-racist protests.

‘The Irish Government needs to make their support for the Black Lives Matter movement clear, regardless of concern for the multi-billion dollar interest this government has in US investment,’ she said.

In her letter, she described the existing direct provision system as ‘inhumane’ because asylum seekers are forced to live in overcrowded conditions, and end up trapped in the system for years.

Deputy Michael Collins responded saying: ‘I have spoken in the Dáil strongly against the way people are being treated in direct provision.’

He said he previously suggested a rural resettlement programme whereby two or more families in a direct provision centre would be given a chance to live in rural communities right throughout the country.

‘If this were to happen,’ he said, ‘it would provide a happy home for those in direct provision and help to rebuild rural communities who have incredible facilities for all to enjoy.’

Ellen Somers is of the opinion that TDs should be an example of anti-racist sentiment; take a clear lead in bringing an end to direct provision; publicly support the Black Lives Matter movement.

The student said she got ‘a considered response from the Social Democrats in relation to the action that party has taken towards abolishing direct provision’ and that Christopher O’Sullivan didn’t reply, but he addressed the issue in the Dáil.

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