At it’s most fundamental, it’s not a migrant crisis, its’ not a refugee crisis – this is first and foremost a human crisis.
The terms ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ become weighted with connotations and they have too often have become terms that we use to almost distance ourselves from the humanity of the situation and that is desperation of men, women and children taking a risk-laden journey to try to escape the horrors of terror for survival.
I mean, at it’s very most fundamental, it’s about survival. And in our own DNA we understand that because we have a history, be it in the mid-19th century, but we are actually the survivors of that and it’s in our DNA and it’s part of the reason why I think we understand it more than most.
Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy speaking this afternoon.
Lynched – playing the BBC Folk Awards tonight at the Royal Albert Hall
1. Dublin traditional/folk four-piece Lynched are the antithesis of safe, diddly-aye stagnation in the genre, commenting fearlessly on austerity, social issues, trad tropes and modern Irish identity.
2. Having existed in various guises for over a decade, Lynched as we know them today came together when the Lynch brothers met bandmates Cormac and Radie at various trad sessions around Dublin around 2012, and began arranging songs the duo had been working on for the prior few years, as well as some lesser-known traditional pieces.
3. Streaming above is Cold Old Fire, the title track from their second album, recorded by Danny Diamond of Slow Moving Clouds in Merrion Street’s Irish Traditional Music Archive in 2014.
4. This was the tune that helped get them kicked off RTÉ Radio on Culture Night a few years back, when showrunners attempted to steer their set away from the recession ballad (how’s about that recovery!) before removing them from proceedings. Nevermind, though: they wound up on Jools Holland after.
5. Tonight, they’ll be a world away from upsetting the official narrative, representing themselves and performing at the BBC Folk Awards, live at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Streaming tonight on BBC iPlayer, because why should public-service broadcasters provide “niche-interest” television or anything, it’s only what they’re funded to do, like.
Verdict: Alongside The Gloaming, as well as the likes of Daithí, Moxie, Slow Moving Clouds and others, Lynched are not trad’s future: they’re the genre’s present. Passionate and progressive while retaining a world-weary authenticity.
People being deported from Greece to Turkey by Frontex officials on April 4
Further to President Michael D Higgins’ speech on Monday in which he was critical of Europe’s response to refugees and migrants who are continuing to travel to Europe…
A petition calling on the next Irish government to demand an end to the EU/Turkey deal states:
Since early March, the EU-Turkey Deal has been implemented against refugees and migrants. This deal designates Turkey as a safe third country, something it patently is not. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 16 people, including three children, were killed by border guards as they crossed into Turkey this year.
Amnesty International has reported on such killings, predominantly of Syrian refugees, since 2013. Not alone this, but Amnesty has also documented that Turkish authorities have been expelling groups of around 100 Syrian men, women and children to Syria almost daily since mid- January.
This mass expulsion of people to a war zone is illegal under Turkish, EU and international law. The registration process in Turkey is also deeply flawed and conditions in the camps there are often unsafe and present multiple health hazards.
…The EU must recognise that people will continue to flee war, danger and precarity, and that these measures are just driving them to make ever more dangerous journeys. Thousands of children have disappeared in Europe, almost 6,000 refugee children and minors were reported missing in Germany last year.
European Union estimates that at least 10,000 child refugees had disappeared after arriving in the continent were “very likely to be underestimated”, according to a senior official at Unicef. Children and vulnerable adults are being preyed on by traffickers and criminals.
The amount of money spent on policing and militarising this crisis could help to resettle the people in need of asylum, this is clearly not a financial issue.
We are witnessing the greatest displacement of people since the Second World War and this time we can see it unfold on our TV screens and computers. The response of the EU is shameful, inhumane and wrong.
Will the next generation look back on this time and wonder how it happened, how we let it happen?
Ireland has responsibilities to these people as it plays a role in their displacement due to the use of Shannon Airport by the US military.
The wars that refugees are fleeing from resulted from invasions, occupations and deliberate aggravation of pre-existing tensions by the US military that we have been supporting at Shannon for the last 15 years.
Ireland also has a proud history of humanitarian activity, let us take a stand now to do the right thing, to play a positive and decent part in this crisis.
Call on your TDs to demand the suspension of the EU/Turkey Deal and for Ireland to accept more refugees. The resilience, courage, solidarity and community they manage to create despite these terrible circumstances could immeasurably enrich our societies.
Let’s be on the right side of history this time. Demand the human rights of migrants are upheld and that there is safe passage for all.
Anyone who wishes can sign the petition – which will be sent to the signee’s local TDs – here
A banner placed on the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin in February, calling for safe routes for people seeking refugee protection
Lecturer in Geography at University College Cork Piaras Mac Éinrí writes:
I don’t want to go into too much detail so as not to identify any parties, but I heard some truly disturbing stories today about the Department of Justice and Law Reform’s handling of such issues as family reunification for Syrian refugees.
A case in point: the woman in Syria who wanted to join her family in Ireland and who was obliged to travel at extraordinary personal danger and expense in order to obtain an identity document for onward travel, only to be informed that it would not be acceptable.
Assurances were given by Frances Fitzgerald, inside and outside the Dáil, that Ireland would be generous about such matters.
The reality is that a paltry number of individuals and families (I think approximately 20 individuals) have been accepted from Lebanese refugee camps in the past several months, while the bigger relocation programme, announced with much fanfare and whereby 4,000 people were to be accepted from overcrowded ‘hot spots’ in Greece and Italy, appears to be completely blocked.
A particular feature of the Department’s current approach seems to be that, even when people are brought in through UNHCR-brokered programmes, it is all done in virtual secrecy.
I met one Syrian family in Mallow a few weeks ago, as I wrote on Facebook at the time, as they had accidentally met up with friends of mine here who had themselves lived in Aleppo.
There are eight Syrian families in Mallow now – there is no security issue, or need for confidentiality, or anything else. Yet it has taken weeks to put them in touch with people who can help them, speak their language, provide them with the most basic assistance.
What is this about, if it is not an obsessive concern with control and an excessive wish to block anyone from civil society from offering help and support?
I have no doubt where much of the fault lies.
In all the changes which have taken place in government (and governance) in this country in the past half-century, one department remains virtually untouched. The Department of Justice has ‘captured’ virtually every minister appointed to it over the decades (I was told today that, for all of his faults, the only exception was Alan Shatter – he initiated a one-off programme of his own for Syrians and the civil servants hated it).
Their securocratic obsessions and slavish subservience to British policy (in the name of protecting the Common Travel Area), as well as their stubborn refusal to engage with other stakeholders, shows that nothing has changed.
My own experience as a civil servant in the 1980s was of dealing with a close-minded, bigoted, sometimes racist and utterly intransigent mindset.
Contrast this with the change in other departments, who now engage actively with other stakeholders – Foreign Affairs and the development policy community are a case in point.
Remember the Hungarians who came in 1956.
They were treated so badly by official Ireland that the vast majority could not wait to move to Canada, a country which offered them a real welcome.
Ironically, the camp where they were (literally) detained, Knockalisheen in Co. Clare is, perhaps not surprisingly, now a Direct Provision Centre. A kind of ‘no-place’ for invisible people.
The Department hasn’t changed since then; as far as I am concerned they have blood on their hands.
But ordinary Ireland has and stands ready to accept refugees in some numbers and make them welcome.
The twin new dangers now are that an absence of government makes ongoing paralysis ever more likely and a possible Brexit will lead to new talk of border controls and craven assurances from our securocrats that even greater care will be taken to prevent ‘undesirables’ from entering this jurisdiction in case they might attempt to use it as a back door to the other place.
I know that the big picture must be addressed and the war must be stopped. This will require greater efforts from the international community than have been evident to date.
In the short term, with Russia pursuing its own agenda, the USA convulsed by the run-up to the presidential elections and an incumbent lame duck and the EU fragmented and divided in several ways, there is little to hope for.
Already there are signs of multiple breaches of the ceasefire supposedly in place.
But, in the meantime, we have a role to play in our own small way and Ireland is in flagrant dereliction of its duty.
Please write to your TDs, if nothing else.
If you have the time and the energy, join an NGO/activist group, tell your students or school pupils about the situation, contribute funds to people providing support.
Media plurality in Ireland by the European University Institute’s Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom
You may recall recent reports about the European University Institute’s Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom examination of media plurality in Ireland.
The report found there’s a ‘high risk’ in relation to the concentration of media ownership in Ireland and that, although there is no legal impediment to becoming a journalist in Ireland, there are ‘barriers’ which ‘limit the access of some groups – e.g., the working classes, ethnic minorities and the disabled – to the profession’.
The report also noted that, ‘there is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that some media owners have sought to influence editorial content’.
Further to this…
Journalism in Crisis conference
University of Limerick on Thursday.
Journalism’s independence from social and political forces has again come into question as seen with the cosy relationship between journalism and the financial and property sectors; while recently both newspapers and broadcasters are increasingly coming under accusations of bias in their reportage of social and political events.
This conference will bring together journalists, media workers and media theorists to discuss the role of journalism in the 21st century, conditions for journalists in the contemporary newsroom and prospects for the future of the media industry.
Another Irish immigration to the US is taking place, but this time it is not because of the potato famine or the economic deprivation it caused in Ireland for decades.
This is the story of Irish people who regard themselves as the first “international medical cannabis refugees” seeking treatment in Colorado.
Yvonne Cahalane left her small community in Cork, southern Ireland, for Colorado with her 2-year-old son Tristan who suffers from Dravet syndrome and has up to 20 seizures every day.
Growing desperate, Yvonne launched a crowdfunding page and raised enough money for herself and Tristan to travel to Colorado last December. Tristan is being treated with CBD oil and THCA,and has regained the ability to speak and his seizures have subsided.
Since that time, another Cork mother, Vera Twomey, has thought of doing the same with her 6-year-old daughter who also has Dravet syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins during infancy.
With around five cases of Dravet syndrome in Ireland and 8,000 Multiple Sclerosis patients, it is becoming more and more common for families to be forced to decide between their home and their health.