Irish Inter–Church Committee Speaks Out Against Intimidation of People Seeking International Protection
World Refugee Day, 20th June 2023
In the wake of a series of recent intimidatory protests that targeted people seeking international protection, the Irish Inter–Church Committee, which comprises representation of 16 churches in Ireland, makes the following appeal:
“The targeting of people seeking protection in Ireland is unacceptable and wrong. As Christians we are called to love our neighbour. The scriptures again and again specifically command us to care for the stranger in our land. Underlying this targeting are fears arising from issues such as the housing and cost of living crises. These are valid matters for protest, and affect some areas and groups more than others, but the scapegoating of people seeking international protection is both unfair and distracts attention from the real causes.
“We believe in the dignity of every person, made in the image of God. As followers of the refugee Christ, we express our solidarity with those who have had to leave their home in order to seek a life of safety and peace.
“The intimidation witnessed in recent weeks is damaging the social fabric of our communities, further wounding already economically deprived and struggling areas. Local community leaders have repeatedly stated that these incidences of intimidation do not reflect their communities and are often fomented by outside actors.
“The housing crisis, cost of living crisis and other community concerns are the result of political decisions over many years, for example in the under–provision of social housing since the 1990s. As a wealthy country we have the means to provide for the fundamental needs of the population. Government policies need to give greater priority to the common good.
“Local congregations around the country are supporting people seeking protection, as well as those most impacted by the cost of living and housing crises. We encourage them to continue to do this, and to listen to the concerns of their communities, whilst supporting them to be inclusive and welcoming. At this time of tension, people need to hear messages of hope and encouragement.
“Finally, we appeal to political leaders to intervene constructively, acknowledging legitimate concerns but recognising that people seeking protection are not at fault. We can all help to create an environment in which community concerns can be addressed in a healthy and meaningful way. This also means challenging disinformation and unwelcome interventions that generate a hostile environment.”