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Stop the pretence: the Irish were never welcoming to refugees

I am writing with regard to the articles I have read in the Irish Examiner about the plight of refugees.


In one piece, it was argued that Irish objections to the refugees coming here was a new phenomenon; that it was a sickness that we inherited from our British counterparts and did not belong in the history of Irish culture.

To be honest I don’t think there ever were good old days when no one would have had a problem with this.

For proof, try asking the next over 60-year-old you meet what they think of this issue and also ask would they think Ireland would have taken these people in the 1940s?

I can guess the answer.

There was no golden age of acceptance in Ireland and we are still struggling today to escape our backwards history, due mostly in part to the Church’s rule.

If we look back, we will, if anything, see a more racist approach to issues such as this. Some writers have even questioned why we had an objection to refugees when we have such a welcoming tourist trade running.

Now taking in refugees from a foreign country and receiving millions of euro every year in a booming tourist trade are two very different things with absolutely no correlation. It has no relevance to this issue.

To be frank, I believe that not accepting the refugees is human nature to us. Caring for our own and putting ourselves in front of others is human nature. It’s animalistic and bred into our mentality.

Racism as a whole is animalistic behaviour: sticking with your own pack or not trusting others.

Another example of an animalistic response would be lashing out when you feel upset or not doing something if you don’t feel like it. Animalistic responses have no room in modern society.

Of course it is easy to say that people at home are struggling to make ends meet, but they are not facing certain death.

How many Irish people have gotten so desperate that they had to go to sea not knowing their fate?

These refugees did not want to come here just like people here don’t want to receive them. But as I said before this is an impulse reaction, we have to rise above this.

We can’t look back towards a Golden Age of acceptance because that didn’t exist. We have to look forward and build an age of acceptance and charity where we fight off our baser human instincts.

Arann Blake

Silverheights Drive




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