Saturday 21 April 2018

Refugees need more money and the right to work, says bishop

Mahamid Aljali and his wife Hamadi and daughter Ola from Syria with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin. Photos: John McElroy
Mahamid Aljali and his wife Hamadi and daughter Ola from Syria with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin. Photos: John McElroy

Sarah Mac Donald

The State must increase the allowance it gives those in direct provision and allow refugees and asylum seekers to work, the Catholic bishop of Kildare and Leighlin has said.

Speaking to the Irish Independent Bishop Denis Nulty questioned how people could get by on the current allowance, which he described as "nominal".

"The State is doing its best, but more needs to be done. It is a big struggle, but we must always be on the side of those who are much less fortunate than we are," he said.

"Everyone has a right to work. If somebody can work, they have a right to contribute to society. Having people living in different centres and not being able to work legally is a huge loss to the State and it needs to be addressed."

Dr Nulty was attending the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin's Family Picnic Day at Punchestown Racecourse, where up to 2,000 families from across his diocese launched preparations for next year's World Meeting of Families (WMF2018) in Ireland.

Among those who attended the picnic were the new papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo from Nigeria, as well as families from two direct provision centres in Newbridge and Portlaoise, and up to 100 Syrians from the refugee centre in Monasterevin.

Ella and Emily Stephens with The Tall Gent, Sally Stretch and High Harr at the ‘Picnic in Punchestown’. Photo: John McElroy
Ella and Emily Stephens with The Tall Gent, Sally Stretch and High Harr at the ‘Picnic in Punchestown’. Photo: John McElroy

Addressing the crowd, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who is president of WMF2018, said: "This time next year the World Meeting of Families will have just concluded and Pope Francis will be on the plane returning to Rome and we'll all be asking ourselves was it a success."

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Syrian mother Hadil Al Zoubi (29) from Damascus said she was living in a hotel in Monasterevin with her husband and four children.

They fled the conflict in Damascus and ended up in a refugee camp in Lebanon for five years. "It was very bad. No education for the children or healthcare. We couldn't work," she said.

They arrived in Ireland five months ago, and hope in the next three months to move to Sligo and have their own accommodation. "I hope my husband will be allowed to work. He owned a bakery in Damascus and employed 25 people," the former teacher explained.

Irish Independent

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