Fingal Communities Against Racism statement on Balbriggan house fire

12 August 2020

Fingal Communities Against Racism are concerned that a house fire in Balbriggan last Sunday has been used to push a racist agenda on social media. The cause of the fire has been investigated, but has still to be confirmed officially. Initial inspections identified it as an electrical fire, amplified when an oil tank in the back garden also caught fire. However, this has been portrayed on social media as a deliberate arson attack as a result of racially motivated gang violence.

As a result of the fire, a local family lost their home and are in distress. However, this has not stopped inaccurate speculation on social media. Among these comments, we have seen posts by obviously fake accounts, by people who have never set foot in Balbriggan and by people connected with far-right parties.

A website owned by the Youth Defence group which purports to be a news site but in reality amplifies far-right talking points and propaganda, attempted to link the fire to “gangs” and claimed there was a “media blackout”.

The reality, of course, is that house fires where nobody has been injured or killed and arson is not suspected, don’t tend to make the national news. The interest shown by individuals and groups linked with the far-right in a house fire in balbriggan, a town which most of them have never visited, is a sign that something else is going on.

The far-right use every opportunity to exploit people’s fears, including fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, to stir up hatred and division and turn neighbours against each other. Their manipulation of social media to push their own agenda is sophisticated, including using multiple fake accounts and out of context video clips onto which they can project the narrative they want. These tactics are part of a pattern and have been used by the far-right in Ireland and internationally.

We ask that people keep this in mind when browsing social media and speak up against attempts to divide our communities. Balbriggan is a diverse town made up of people from all over Ireland and other parts of the world who have made a home and are raising families here. The far-right has its own agenda in pushing an image of Balbriggan to the rest of the country that is relentlessly sinister and negative. Those propagating this agenda do not care about the town or any of its residents or how Balbriggan is perceived.

We urge the community to speak out and refuse to let this far-right agenda erase the work of many good people in Balbriggan living and working side by side, trying to improve our environment and creating strong communities. Do not let a racist agenda define our town.

Thanks to the Fingal Independent for sharing our statement

https://www.independent.ie/regionals/fingalindependent/concern-incidents-being-used-to-push-racist-agenda-39455918.html

State neglect of International Protection duties in Skellig Star and all around Ireland during Covid-19.

The removal of International Protection Applicants to remote hotels, in overcrowded situations, with little to no information, as well as no option to cocoon, is a significant act of mistreatment and neglect by the state. The residents in these hotels, like the Skellig Star in Caherciveen, have come to Ireland to seek protection from  persecution, injury and death, and they have been treated like animals instead of humans.

The state has known for weeks that there was a raised risk of spread in Direct Provision centres, and put in place the most minimal measures. When it was clear that those weren’t enough, residents were bussed from place to place, with no social distancing, and moved into crowded rooms often worse than those they left behind. When covid has spread, only those with multiple symptoms were tested and removed to isolation, while facilities were cleaned in accordance with HSE guidelines and residents were unable to do anything themselves to change the situation because of the management systems put in place by IPAS and the Department of Justice and its private contractors, including the Skellig Star.

 According to the Minister for Health Simon Harris, there are now 164 confirmed cases of the virus in Centres. The government’s stock response that there is plenty of capacity in City West to enable self-isolation, including for the 160 healthcare workers living in Direct Provision, is inadequate and ignores the long bus journey this involves for anybody outside Dublin. Instead, the government should urgently provide self-contained accommodation with individual access to sanitation and eating facilities for every family unit and single person in the international protection system. This is the approach recommended by 900 experts in a letter to the government on 31st March

We in Fingal Communities Against Racism know about the fear, the intimidation and the unsafe living accommodation because we have heard about it directly from the asylum seekers we are supporting around Dublin. We receive messages daily from people who are living in fear, confusion and frustration, and whose whistleblowing about unsafe accommodation is being ignored daily by IPAS.

The situation is urgent.

We cannot wait for more ICU cases and deaths.

We cannot wait for an inquiry after people have died who came to this country seeking protection to save their own lives.

We cannot wait for reports into the long-term impact of Covid-19 on asylum seekers.

We need action now.

ReplyForward

Dublin Fingal Is Top Constituency for Anti-Racism Pledge

15 out of 16 general election candidates standing in the Dublin Fingal constituency have signed up to an Anti-Racism Election Protocol, with their number beating every other constituency in the country. The protocol has been used to address fearmongering about integration in the county despite its widely acknowledged success. The candidates also took part in photocalls in Balbriggan and Swords on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd February to send a clear message that racism should have no place in the election campaign in Fingal.

Fingal Communities Against Racism (FCAR) spokesperson Dr. Lucy Michael said, “It’s hugely positive that the vast majority of Dublin Fingal election candidates signed the Anti-Racism Election Protocol both during the by-election campaign in November and now again during the general election. Ahead of polling day on 8th February, we are helping people have conversations with friends, family, neighbours and workmates about the far-right and anti-immigrant attitudes. We believe conversations matter to keep our region free of hate. You can find tips to help you have those conversations on our website FingalTogether.ie and our social media platforms”.

Local residents were out sharing the message of an inclusive Fingal across the weekend, and will be continuing right up to the election. Response across Fingal has been hugely positive, with businesses and community centres taking posters sharing the Fingal Together message.

The Anti-Racism Election Protocol, an initiative of The Irish Network Against Racism (INAR), commits candidates to conduct their election campaigns in such a way that they do not incite hatred or prejudice on the grounds of ‘race’, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin, religious belief and membership of the Traveller or Roma Community.

A full list of Dublin Fingal General Election Candidates who have endorsed the Anti-Racism Election Protocol is available at: https://inar.ie/signatories-of-the-anti-racism-election-protocol-2020/ and is as follows:

Paul Mulville – Social Democrats
Louise O’Reilly – Sinn Féin
Duncan Smith – Labour
Terry Kelleher – Solidarity
Joe O’Brien – Green Party
John Uwhumiakpor – People Before Profit
Lorraine Clifford-Lee – Fianna Fáil
Alistair Smith – United People
Alan Farrell – Fine Gael
James Reilly – Fine Gael
Darragh O’Brien – Fianna Fáil
Dean Mulligan – Independents4Change
Sandra Sweetman – Independent
Glenn Brady – Independent
Tony Murphy – Independent