Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Accommodation for International Protection Applicants: Motion [Private Members]


2:15 pm

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I was out canvassing during the week, and I knocked on a door and met a gentleman I have known, along with his family, for years. He said the Minister and his Government are making him a racist. This man was never a racist. He was a hardworking man who raised a good family. He never had an issue with refugees or asylum seekers. He has an adult child who has a disability and he has had to fight all his life for services for his child. Tragically, his wife had two strokes last year, and she cannot get a medical card. He is really angry because, as he said to me, he has had to fight all his life for his child and now he has to fight for his wife. Where is the fairness? He never had a problem with asylum seekers or refugees but one vulnerable group are being pitted against another. The anger should be at the Government, at its policies and at not giving his wife a medical card or his child the services she should have always had. His son came home from Australia to see his mother because she is sick. I was talking to him and he said he was going back to Australia because there is nothing for him here. He said that over there, he is valued and has a house, a roof over his head and a good standard of living. He asked why he would come back to Gurranabraher, where he is from, to live in his mother's boxroom at 30 years of age, because that is what the Government has done.

This is what people on the ground are saying. Another lady, Claire, also told me she feels she is becoming racist because even though she is undergoing treatment for cancer, she cannot get a medical card. She said people are getting off planes in Dublin and being given medical cards. I said to Claire that this is not their fault but the Government's fault for not giving everyone with cancer an entitlement to a medical card. The Government's policies are driving a wedge between communities.

The Minister has to take responsibility. He has to admit the Government has made mistakes. I have spoken to him in the Chamber about various centres. I will work with him. I have a lot of other things I want to say but I will focus on one example, the Gerald Griffin Street centre in Cork. There was a big announcement about it last week. People seeking asylum are living there, their children go to the local schools and they are working locally. They are now being put out to allow new people to come in. The Government is just massaging the figures to try to turn vulnerable people against one another, and it is wrong.


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