As Mosney residents continue to protest against the transfer of 111 people to different hostels across Ireland, an Irish Facebook group is migrating its own brand of racist invective. [Atrocious grammar in the following is not my own]:
Stop scaming the State, GET THEM ALL OUT, And reopen it for the Irish! – Janice Smith, Baldoyle.
There money grabbing foreıgners tat are responsıble for mst of the problems in tis country – Ray Kelly.
A fat arse politıon open the gates gve them houses for FREE money FREE taxis FREE dıd ya see the cars at mosney i dıd my mate lives near it oh and childrens allowance for theır NONE irish brats – Janice Smith (again).
They will be relocated to somewere else with beds, water, cooker, food, clothes. The homeless Irish in Dublin do not have it this good…They should be forced out, Its not their land – Shane Donnelly, Dublin.
The country barely has a pot to piss in yet they are probably spending millions of taxpayers money on this group of people to be shacked up in mosney – John Clarke, Artane.
The Irish Government gave away a great amenity when they gave Mosney Holiday Camp to asylum seekers without any consultation with the Irish people – Anne Donnelly.
What about the normal irish person out of work now with kids that need a summer holiday we should have it back to ourselfs now and let them look after themselfs – Michael Murphy, Limerick.
What started out as a ‘happy memories’ lament to the traditional Irish holiday of the 1970s/80s, soon turned to racist rants from some of the 5,000-strong Support The Reopening of Mosney group. Since news broke about the Monsey residents last week, a dangerous herd mentality began stomping and tail-swishing in the Irish breeze. Back in 2000, when Mosney’s doors shut for good, hardly anyone ranted and raved or protested at all. They were too busy sunning themselves on cheap package holidays in Majorca, Ayia Napa, Turkey and Bundoran. Of course there were the odd few…like Alderman Frank Godfrey, Mayor of Drogheda, who expressed ‘concerns’ about the local area turning into a ‘ghetto’, and a couple of letters from locals were published in the Irish press.
No-one questioned Fianna Fail’s decision, for instance, to award Mosney owner Phelim McCloskey £15 million [Irish pounds] for leasing the 300 acres and its facilities to the Department of Justice for a five year period. The most pressing concern was where to accommodate the much-loved Community Games that had always been held at Mosney. Bertie came to the rescue and ordered alternative venues in case the housing of ‘refugees’ meant the holiday camp was not available for the games. Apart from that, the transition to a holding camp for asylum seekers barely lasted the month as a news or feature item.
The dour relationship between recession and racism is not new or even news. Since the recession has cosied down like an evil-smelling blanket over Ireland in the last two years, racist incidents (and attacks) have increased at an alarming rate. Just yesterday a new Racist Incidents Support and Referral Service was announced. One of the founders, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy told the Irish Examiner: “For too long, Ireland has been in denial about the racist incidents occurring in our communities and our collective responsibility to combat racism. We know from our experience working with migrants who have experienced racism that people are subjected to violence and threats of violence, have their property damaged and are subjected to racist taunts and discrimination”.
It is the usual yack, that when recession worsens, those who feel most vulnerable look for people to blame and immigrants, foreigners, asylum seekers, basically anyone marginalised, become easy targets. The result is a virulent undercurrent of social unrest and tension, leading to the type of brain-dead rants found on the Mosney Facebook group. Interestingly, there is a total absence of cussed comments towards the real originators of the bust: property developers, banks, politicians. Let’s also be fair here: the Facebook group’s admin are folk with good intention whose message is quite simple: ‘please join this group to share happy memories of the camp and let’s hope one day it [Mosney] reopens’.
Recently, through its membership, the Irish section of the European Network against Racism had cause to insist that Facebook remove a similar group that was using the platform to racially abuse members of the Travelling Community. “Eventually Facebook complied and deleted the group,” explains Ken McCue, International Officer of Sport against Racism Ireland (SARI). “We’ve asked the Gardaí to investigate the Mosney group on Facebook but their powers are limited as it’s published in the US. However, I have reported this hate attack to the Gardaí and ENAR.”
Yesterday after reading the comments on the site I phoned a journalist pal who’d recently been to Mosney to interview some of the residents for a UK paper. He was incensed as I read out some of the malevolent messages splattered all over the group’s wall. “While I was at Mosney I met doctors, engineers, all kinds of professionals that would do anything to work and contribute to Irish society but are not being put to good use because the bureaucratic process is a mess,” he said.
He also talked about a footballer from Africa who coaches young Irish kids for free, using his own pittance to get out and train them. “I was also hugely impressed at how clean the Mosney flats were, even the stairwells were spotless unlike native Irish ones which are reeking of piss, covered in graffiti and strewn with used needles.”
The fact that the Mosney residents are not allowed rent or own property, they are only allowed stay in these hostels…that they live on €19 per week, and cannot work, or that the money to accommodate them stems from EU funds, seems to have alluded most of the ranters on the Mosney site. And let’s be clear on this €19 for the plelthora of ignorami out there who’ve never bothered asking how the payment is chopped up or made. On an asylum seeker’s social welfare receipt, there’s the full whack of €196 per week allocated that any Irish unemployed person gets…minus €177 that goes direct to the landlord on behalf of the State. And guess who’s in bed with the state when it comes to choosing/allocating landlords and accommodation? Very good, you’ve guessed right: property developers, investors, business folk, etc., the real ‘money grabbers’ who made handy lucrative deals with government to provide this much needed shelter. Make no mistake, the asylum process here is an enormous business machine and one of the few going concerns in Ireland right now in a constant state of profit.
By contrast to the reams of racist tripe we’ve been hearing of late, a letter in today’s Irish Times mirrors what a lot of ordinary Irish people feel about the plight of the residents: ‘It is bad enough that these most vulnerable of people must put their lives on hold for up to seven years while the Department of Justice decides their fate, but to herd them around like cattle from one holding pen to another is an outrage. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and his officials should hang their heads in shame,’ it read.
Mags Treanor, a poet from Galway, who has worked with asylum seekers, has reported the Facebook page to the authorities for incitement to hatred. “To hear that people [on this site] actually think asylum seekers are the cause of the current economic situation and not the greedy Irish business people who creamed money from the state for using it as an accommodation facility is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.
Around 96% of refugees in Ireland have their initial asylum applications rejected under a system human rights campaigners have denounced as “inhumane”. Only Greece has a lower rate of accepting asylum seekers in the EU, taking in just 1.2% of refugees, according to the European commission body Eurostat. In the UK, 26.9% of asylum applications were accepted upon application last year. On appeal, those numbers rose to an estimated 30% for the UK, but to only 7.8% in Ireland, Eurostat said. [Source: The Guardian]
While the people of Mosney have yet to find out their fate, the racist underclass in Ireland continues to lobby for the return of their holiday camp, which in my memory at least, was famed for its floating turds in the glass-encasaed swimming pool, karaoke (before karaoke machines) and greasy chips in polystyrene cones. In all reality this latest round of Facebook ‘comments’ is nothing to do with feeling sentimental about a budget holiday destination or about expressing how broke and marginalised, frightened and powerless, people feel during recession. It is about blame and ignorance and stupidity and how the moral impunity of social networking allows hate to thrive.
“The five years given to house asylum seekers is up and that’s that,” writes Sarah Heavey. Her opinion is fairly typical of many who have left messages so far: “Either re-house them like planned or send them home. I am not racist and I truly sympathise with them, but Ireland is in financial ruin now and reopening Mosney will provide much-needed employment, as well as providing holidays for people.”
Please take the time to register your distaste for the racist voices on the Facebook page here
June Caldwell is a writer, who after 13 years of journalism, is finally writing a novel. She has a MA in Creative Writing and was winner of ‘Best Blog Post’ award at the 2011 Irish Blog Awards. You can read this post on her own blog here: