Ireland Is Not Full
A Letter from Ireland
I was driving back from Belfast when I heard the news of a knife attack in Dublin that left three children and a teacher injured.
By the time I got home, there were reports of disturbances in Dublin City Centre. A racists fringe had tried to march on the crime scene, seeking to heighten tensions with fear and misinformation. They have tried this in the past and failed. This time they were joined by opportunistic thieves and anti-social elements to burn public transport and loot shops.
Within an hour, my wife got a message that some staff at a city centre children’s hospital had no way of getting home as public transport had been canceled. We headed into town.
We picked up two nurses from the hospital. They worked in the same emergency unit that had treated the injured kids from the earlier attack. Both were foreign nationals. They talked about their families. They were working 12-hour shifts and hoped in the future to bring their children to Ireland for a better life.
The racists promoted the lie that this was an attack by an “unvetted” immigrant on “Irish Women and Children” calling for migrants to be “sent home”. All the time claiming that “Ireland is Full”.
We now know that the suspect was a long-standing naturalized Irish Citizen, the most seriously injured was the child of immigrants. Of the three people who disarmed the attacker, two were immigrants. The first responder on the scene was a passing immigrant and trainee nurse. The medical teams that acted to save them were drawn from across Ireland and the world.
The biggest threat to women, children, and indeed men in Ireland is not immigrants but other Irish-born men. The causes of poverty, inequality, and the housing crisis are not immigrants but successive governments, landlords, and developers.
Our population has still not recovered from an Gorta Mór. I suppose for those promoting the racist slogan of “Ireland is Full”, an Gorta Mór was not economic genocide imposed on the Irish but a famine due to overpopulation. Ireland is not full. I want it to be a home for mine and all our children. I know of many Irish American who dream of settling in Ireland.
Those who organized the protests are not patriots. It was not about a reasoned and informed discussion on immigration. It was driven by the actions of a hate-filled racists fringe who jumped on the horrendous attack to promote their divisive agenda. It is the same playbook from across the world.
By morning, the lies of the racists were exposed, and the people of Dublin reclaimed their streets.
That’s the thing; the racists can never win. Irish people know the pain of immigration. We have a diaspora across the globe.
Poverty, inequality, and the housing crisis must be tackled. We have almost full employment and plenty of opportunities. The problems we face are not the responsibility of immigrants but decades of government failure and neglect.
The challenge of this generation is to build a new and united Ireland. A prosperous home for all who share the island. We will remain the nation of céad míle fáilte.
Have a great weekend.
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.