Sunday 25 September 2016

Real asylum seekers want refuge, not life in a particular nation

Published 24/09/2015 | 02:30

A migrant child cries as refugees scramble aboard a train at the station in Beli Manastir, Croatia
A migrant child cries as refugees scramble aboard a train at the station in Beli Manastir, Croatia

As someone who has consistently advocated a fair, proportionate, pan-European response to the refugee crisis, not simply from a humanitarian stance, but also on the basis of political, social and cultural solidarity with our southern neighbours, I want to register my outrage at the statement by Dr Jeff Crisp, a refugee expert at Oxford University.

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By arguing that "the strength of the refugees' wishes is strong and they are determined to go where they want to go" (Irish Independent, September 23), he instantly defines them not as refugees, but as migrants. The historical principle of refuge has always been grounded in the concept of sanctuary from persecution.

Therefore, throughout the centuries, those fleeing from civil and social strife have always not merely accepted the hospitality of whatever generous host nation they have arrived in, but also been eternally grateful for that sanctuary.

They certainly have not demanded to live in a place of their choice - that has and remains the prerogative of economic migrants, who have been fortunate enough to have had a choice in designing their future life path. This is not so with genuine refugees.

Dr Kevin McCarthy

Kinsale, Co Cork

Eir today...

If I had written "eir", as the company formerly known as "eircom" is now called, I would have been rabbit-punched by every one of the sweaty, chain-smoking, drink-sodden blackguards who pretended to be teachers when I was a child in school.

But that's neither here nor there.

It is impossible to make out what this logo reads, so childishly is it written.

And it is not even a real word.

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Reform the care home system

Regarding the 'Prime Time' investigation of the Áras Attracta nursing home, the HSE's independently appointed review group has set up a public consultation inviting concerned members of the public to have their say on urgent reforms in the provision of care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Any decent human being who watched the RTÉ programme or read the many news reports last December will recall being completely shocked with what they saw.

The emotional response was understandably one of disbelief, disgust and ultimately anger.

What's now important is that changes are put in place so that we never let this happen again. We're talking about the most vulnerable people in our society. We owe it to them.

Questions need to be answered on the best approach: whether through legislation or procedures, involving training, funding or oversight. The time to act is now, not a few years down the line when another incident occurs and people wonder why nothing was done after Áras Attracta.

The public consultation process should be welcomed and engaged with. It's an active step in the right direction for all citizens including service users, parents, guardians, friends and care professionals - especially those who have experience of care services for the intellectually disabled.

They now have the opportunity to have their genuinely held concerns and grievances listened to and hopefully acted upon. Ideally, this information will lead to meaningful and constructive reform within the intellectual disability care sector.

We don't know whether that will happen. What will happen is that the review group will have the benefit of relevant feedback from those who actually use care services.

Inclusion Ireland, the leading national association for people with intellectual disabilities, has been entrusted with the responsibility of hosting submissions from the public through its website (www.inclusionireland.ie). The questions asked are refreshingly straightforward.

James Doyle

Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow

Gaelicise the GAA

In the drive to obey the marketeers' mantra of "only one logo!" CLG (Cumann Lúthchleas Gael) the Gaelic name for the Gaelic Athletic Association is being eradicated by TG4, RTÉ and the association itself, despite the promotion of the language being part their constitutions.

I propose Gaelicising the GAA to "Gael Aclaí Aontaithe" (Athletic Gaels United) - this way "GAA" will be an Irish language logo too.

Rossa Ó Snodaigh

Cluainín Uí Ruairc, Contae Liatroma

Italy and refugees

Italy has been caring for the unfortunate refugees for many years. In the last 10 years on breakfast time TV Italians have witnessed the harrowing scenes from the night before - what the rest of the world is seeing today.

In 1975, after the US invasion of Vietnam, Italy welcomed its refugees, fleeing from communism and US imperialism. Many of these people set down roots in Italy.

In various Italian regions today small houses and apartments, built years ago for workers in the olive groves and vineyards, have been home to thousands of immigrants.

They have found work and are respected wherever they live.

Over the years, Italy has pleaded for help from outside. Its pleas fell on deaf ears. This is the reality of the refugee crisis.

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Vote buying is nothing new

Jim O'Sullivan is lacking in a bit of historical perspective when he complains about families being made homeless while a €1.5bn "vote-buying exercise" is engaged in by the present crowd in government, whom he says are to blame for it all (Irish Independent, Letters, September 21).

The cause of all the austerity, including the present homelessness crisis, goes back a lot further than the present crowd in government.

The previous crowd's vote-buying exercises increased government expenditure by so much during the boom that it needed a €9bn cut in expenditure after 2008 to get anywhere near to balancing the books.

It also needed an €85bn bailout funded by other countries when this country became bankrupt.

As a vote-buying exercise, therefore, offering €1.5bn seems small in comparison to the €85bn bailout and the €9bn already taken away from the funding of the public services.

But perhaps we should be glad that we are not in Greece, where years of vote-buying exercises, that put ours to shame, continue to cause havoc for ordinary people.

In fact, they are still taking money out of much worse-funded public services. They are also into their third bailout and their fifth election.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Irish Independent

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