Human rights are not the privilege of the few or even the many, they are the universal right of all. Any nation’s desire to protect the security and wealth of its own citizens does not take precedence over this basic fact. We as a nation know this as instinctively as our own existence. We have been shaped and reshaped by the diaspora. Humanity was granted our people on the likes of Ellis Island in the United States and Grosse Island in Canada when we were on our knees. Did we not then contribute to the growth of these great nations?
Many consider the current wave of refugees or migrants to be a problem. And while it is a crisis, it is also an opportunity not only for them but for us as well. The most successful societies in the world are those who embrace multiculturalism. There is much that we can learn culturally from these people. Many of these migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea are far more educated and trained than most of the Irish emigrants that left these shores in the 1800’s.
How we act now will determine how we are judged by history. A multilateral European solution has to be reached on this matter. The social and moral consequences of not giving refuge to these people will far out-way the teething problems in helping them now. Responsibility for destabilising the whole of the middle east lies largely on the shoulders of the United States but it is not something they are willing to admit for a myriad of social, political, economic and religious reasons. It’s time for Europe to stand up and help its neighbours, show compassion and stretch any avenue available to help these people. Some countries will have a greater capacity to integrate migrants than others and they should be dispersed as proportionately as possible.
No parent would put their child’s life at risk by crossing a stretch of water where they could possibly die, if they were not desperate. More than 2,600 people have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year. These people are escaping from regions where there is war, murder, rape, torture and chemical weapons attacks. Many of our ancestors had to make equally perilous journeys on board coffin ships during the famine. There was of course procedure and quarantine that had to be adhered to on the like of Ellis and Grosse Island, but women and children were not met with a show of force like that of the tear gas and water cannon used on refugees recently.
Of course people are worried about security and scared of cultures they do not understand. Has this not always been the case with the migration of people? It is by embracing difference that we really grow as a species. There will be argument over religion, dress, cultural ideals and practices but these things are for the future. People need help now, not an argument about how they may or may not behave in the future.
Early Irish emigrants to the US were made up of all sorts. Some worked hard and were successful, some murdered and robbed and started much of the organised crime in New York and elsewhere in the states. But the majority were just happy to be given the opportunity to try and make a living in a land where they were treated humanely .
Is it not our duty to welcome refugees into our country with open arms and give them the opportunity of a better life? What do you think? Please take the poll below…