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'End direct provision' - Bishop of Galway makes call from the pulpit amid Oughterard protests

Bishop Brendan Kelly also called the alleged infiltration of the protests by anti-immigration groups "concerning"

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Bishop Brendan Kelly

Bishop Brendan Kelly

Bishop Brendan Kelly

The Bishop of Galway - speaking in Oughterard, where protests continue against a direct provision centre planned for the town - has called for an end to the controversial system of asylum seeker accommodation.

Today I call for an end to the current system of direct provision which strips people of their independence, their cultural identity, and their dignity and has lasting traumatic impact on residents,” said Bishop Brendan Kelly in a homily at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the Connemara village today.

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The protest march making its way through the town of Oughterard, Co Galway. Photo: Hany Marzouk

The protest march making its way through the town of Oughterard, Co Galway. Photo: Hany Marzouk

The protest march making its way through the town of Oughterard, Co Galway. Photo: Hany Marzouk

“It is not fit for purpose. It prevents people from integrating and it contributes towards the deepening of ignorance, resentment and suspicion. In addition, there is a lack of transparency in the management of, and in the quality of operation of the centres.

“The State has fallen far short by inadequately preparing local communities to effectively plan for our new arrivals.

"There has been a lack of consultation, ineffective communication and information-sharing, and an absence of required social infrastructure and resources in health and education.”

Two thousand people turned out at a protest yesterday over concerns about the location of a direct provision centre in the Galway town. The protests have now entered their third week

Posters at the protest read "Oughterard says yes to refugees, no to direct provision".

Some protesters called on the Minister for Justice to find an alternative to direct provision.

However, there were concerns that anti-immigration groups were attempting to “infiltrate” the community’s protest, according to local publican and spokesman, Rory Clancy.

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“We welcome people into the community under different circumstances,” Mr Clancy told reporters, emphasising that “Oughterard is not a racist town”.

“Direct provision centre are not homes – we are all entitled to a home, and that’s what we would love to give the people,” Mr Clancy said.

Bishop Kelly also referred to the alleged infiltration of the protest as “concerning”.

“Earlier this summer I, along with my fellow bishops, emphasised our concern about the rising number of incidents of racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance in Ireland – carried out sometimes by people who consider themselves faithful Christians. 

“I wish to affirm again that human dignity does not depend on the colour of a person’s skin, their nationality, accent, or their religious affiliation. All people are equal, equally children of God, our sisters and brothers,” he said.

“I am also strongly urging the faithful to open the doors of their hearts, homes, parishes and communities and to welcome the stranger as Jesus would have done.”

“Migrants and refugees have already suffered as targets in the country of origin and are often met with hostility at their journey’s end.

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Unrest: Plans to use the long-closed Connemara Gateway hotel, near Oughterard, Co Galway, for housing asylum seekers led to 700 people attending a meeting in the town. Photo: Ray Ryan

Unrest: Plans to use the long-closed Connemara Gateway hotel, near Oughterard, Co Galway, for housing asylum seekers led to 700 people attending a meeting in the town. Photo: Ray Ryan

Unrest: Plans to use the long-closed Connemara Gateway hotel, near Oughterard, Co Galway, for housing asylum seekers led to 700 people attending a meeting in the town. Photo: Ray Ryan

"In our own families Irish emigrants were often met with prejudice and violence in their host country. We must not readily expunge our own cultural memories and personal experiences,” the bishop added.


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