Ian O’Doherty

Ireland’s migrant hypocrisy

Sandwith street after the fire (photo: Alamy)

‘Cead Mile Failte’, which means ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’, is a sentiment the Irish have long held dear. 

We pride ourselves on our welcoming nature, our music, our famous pub culture and the fact that the average tourist will be almost overwhelmingly love-bombed by locals who are happy to see a new face and will want to regale them with tales of local lore. 

But recently it seems that Ireland may have used up its welcomes and is, instead, retreating back into the dark terrain of nativism and suspicion of foreigners. 

For a country that liked to boast about its welcoming nature, the last few weeks have seen the rise of a brand of anti-immigrant sentiment that has verged on the murderous. 

When the number of indigenous homeless people is roughly similar to the number of migrants requiring assistance, it’s a recipe for disaster

The most shocking example occurred in inner city Dublin during a stand-off between pro-migrant and anti-migrant protesters. With an estimated 65,000 people having arrived on Irish shores in the last few years, these flashpoints have become increasingly frequent, but the events at the clash on Dublin’s Sandwith street shocked the nation. In what must surely rank as one of Ireland’s lowest moments, the tents belonging to a makeshift encampment of migrants were completely torched. 

It was a genuinely shameful moment, and one which has deeply upset many people. 

It is the kind of openly racist violence that has never been a part of Irish life, yet it is becoming more common and, in some circles, more acceptable. 

Similar attitudes have been displayed across the country. Recently, asylum seekers had to be removed from a shelter in county Clare because of threats to their safety. Various parties had placed bollards and blockades across the roads to prevent any more migrants arriving, and there were menacing threats of burning down any hotel which dared to accommodate asylum seekers.

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