An anti-racism rally took place in Letterkenny today to share words of welcome and inclusion to migrants.
The ‘Ireland for All’ Rally organised by the Donegal Intercultural Platform was part of a national series of gatherings being held across the country today.
In Letterkenny, a small crowd gathered at the Market Square to hear speeches, music and poetry themed on diversity and unity.
Paul Kernan, Coordinator of the Donegal Intercultural Platform, said the aim of the event is to counteract the voices promoting division and fear in Ireland today.
“They are engendering fear and that is exactly what we stand against,” he said.
Senator Eileen Flynn told the rally that the most vulnerable people, ethnic minorities, are being seen as ‘easy targets’ by the far right, just as they were targetted during World War II.
Senator Flynn cited a case in which posters were issued to Dublin residents telling them to keep their daughters indoors to protect them from new arrivals.
“Here in Ireland, unfortunately, the most vulnerable people are those seeking international protection. I have no doubt that the far right will continue to be racist, to spread hate, to divide us, to tell lies and to be extreme.”
Senator Flynn added: “Nobody has a right to say that their child matters more than a black child, than a child who is poor, because at the end of the day what we are giving people is a hand-up, not a hand-out and to live in peace, with dignity.”
Nolunga Shologu, a Community Links Worker at the Donegal Intercultural Platform, told the crowd the meaning of Dún na nGall – Fort of the Foreigners.
“That is why you see me here,” she said.
Nolunga was born and bred in South Africa. She came to Ireland as an asylum seeker 22 years ago, waiting seven years before being granted Humanitarian Leave to Remain. She received a round of applause when she told how she now works full-time, pays her taxes and has never been in trouble with the law.
“Do not fear people seeking asylum, they are normal and ordinary families who are looking for peace and safety,” Nolunga said.
David Friel, who works with Think Equality Donegal, said that minority communities are facing a dire situation and that all people in Ireland need better accommodation, better healthcare and better education
David said: “We have been abandoned by our government. This is not the result of the presence of people seeking asylum or refugees. This is because of the systemic policy failure of our government for decades.
“Blaming ethnic minorities is not the answer, because with division there is weakness but with solidarity there is strength.”
The event encouraged people to continue the show of solidarity with migrants outside of the rally, by joining support groups, engaging with the Donegal Intercultural Platform or displaying ‘Donegal Welcomes Refugees’ stickers.