RTÉ newsreader Sharon Ní Bheoláin calls for pushback against ‘extreme rhetoric’ aimed at refugees

Sharon Ní Bheoláin

Melanie Finn

RTÉ News broadcaster Sharon Ní Bheoláin has said we should “actively support those in need” in these uncertain times.

She was speaking after being named host for the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards (IRCHA) and said it had been a year of “immense challenges”.

She said there had been a rise in extreme views here recently and, as a society, we needed to show our support for vulnerable immigrants and asylum-seekers in Ireland.

“In recent months, we’ve also seen an increase in extreme rhetoric, suggestions we need to push back against some who have arrived on these shores as well as disinformation targeting those who have sought refuge,” she said.

In taking part in the awards, it showed she was “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who work to aid those in need”.

“Let us all focus on our shared humanity. This event is a crucial reminder of the need to actively support those in need – regardless of who they are or where they are from,” she said.

She listed international crises such as the forced migration of millions of people from Ukraine and the catastrophic damage and suffering caused by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, not to mention the Creeslough explosion in Donegal last October.

“It’s clear the need for active engagement to support those in need has never been greater or more urgent,” she said.

The aim of the awards is to highlight the incredible and selfless efforts to those in Ireland who have gone out of their way to help people in urgent need.

Deirdre Garvey, secretary general of the Irish Red Cross, said that we “all need to focus squarely on the crucial need for unity, humanity, impartial support and volunteer service in aid of others”.

Mary Lawlor, one of Ireland’s leading advocates for human rights, has already been awarded the 2023 Irish Red Cross Lifetime Achievement award for her work.

Currently the UN special rapporteur for human rights defenders, she is also adjunct professor of business and human rights in Trinity College Dublin. Ms Lawlor is also the founder of Front Line Defenders.

She said it was a “tremendous honour” to accept the award.

Taking place at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on Thursday, April 13, the IRCHA also features five different categories of winners including humanitarian of the year and journalism excellence.