Anti-refugee movement in Ireland "escalating," MASI co-founder says

"It is rising, it is continuing, it is organised and is moving from one place to another," said Lucky Khambule.

Three men holding a MASI sign to represent Lucky Khambule statement on anti-refugee movements
Image: @fiachraoluain via Instagram

Lucky Khambule, co-founder of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), spoke on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland in response to the anti-refugee protest in Ballymun over the weekend.

“During the protest, because I was there, listening to those chants from the people. The way people were scared … they had to switch off the lights and just peep through the windows to see what was going on.”

Khambule recalled hearing shouts of “Send them home, send them home, that is their message, loud and clear, so that message gets heard by people who are seeking protection.”

On a positive note, Khambule also emphasised that “it is good that there are lots of words of condemnation from leaders” but that they also want to “see an end to it because it is escalating” and residents are scared. 

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien commented on the protests, stating that he is “very disturbed” by them. He added that in contrast to this anti-refugee behaviour, Ireland has previously been “a welcoming country, rightly so”.

“We know from our own history what it’s like to have to leave our own shores, due to oppression, due to war, due to famine,” he added. 

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy, who is from Ballymun, also spoke about the episode. She believes the recent protests were organised by the same group that held similar acts in Dublin’s East Wall area last month.

During RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne, Conroy said: “We are all coming together to see what is the best response to show the vulnerable coming into the community that we are here for them.”

Similarly, councillor for the Ballymun-Finglas area on Dublin City Council Briege MacOscar also commented on the protests. 

“My thoughts are firstly with the people who are living in those centres targeted by the protests. The testimonies we’ve heard are very upsetting.”

“To think children were looking out and hearing people say ‘send them home’, that’s very upsetting,” she continued.

According to the Department of Integration in Ireland, the targetted hotel in Ballymun currently houses 221 refugees, some of whom are families. People flee their homelands for a number of different reasons, including fear of prosecution for being LGBTQ+.

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