The news that 100 asylum seekers are to be put into a Direct Provision centre in Moville caused an outcry in the town, mainly because everyone recognised the town is very remote for asylum seekers who have to be in Dublin very often.
Because of misinformation, including misleading video clips of a meeting held in Moville that was on social media, Fáilte Inishowen was set up to organise a welcome; that group, with Inishowen Together, called a meeting for Sunday afternoon 25th Nov to show support, solidarity and welcome for the newcomers, while opposing the injustice of Direct Provision (DP).
A lot of fear surrounded the meeting – there were rumours that a far right group was on its way to Moville. In the night before the meeting, the hotel which is being turned into a DP centre was firebombed. This firebombing backfired on whoever did it because the good people of Moville turned out in their hundreds for the welcome meeting that afternoon. Every chair in the Methodist Hall was filled and people stood around the walls and at the back, two and three deep in some places. No racists dared show their faces.
The meeting heard from Lucky Khambule of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) and artist Vukasin Nedeljkovic of Asylum Archive. Both talked about their experiences of having their lives “put on hold” while in DP. They also explained how the DP system works and gave examples of the small acts of kindness by local people that make such a difference to people living in DP.
After they spoke, the audience rose to offer welcome and practical solidarity. The principal of the Community College detailed how its pupils were already preparing to help support their new classmates; a primary school teacher said her school was excited to meet the new children. A library worker said the asylum seekers can get library cards immediately and use the computers and other resources on the same basis as any one else. People from the local childcare provider, the Family Support Centre, Inishowen Development Partnership, Moville Men’s Shed – it was hard to keep track there were so many people getting up to offer support.
Moville and Inishowen generally is is one of the most remote parts of the Republic if you are not able to travel through the North. There is little employment in the town, most people work in Derry (20 mins away) or Letterkenny (45 mins away). So asylum seekers will be hemmed in when in Moville, having to travel through Donegal county and then Sligo in order to get to Dublin.
People Before Profit’s Eamonn McCann pointed out that while the Brexit negotiators are determined to ensure goods will flow freely across the island, there is already a racist hard border on the island which has been highlighted by the placement of asylum seekers in Moville. If one of them takes a chance and travels through the North to Dublin they will be detained and deported if caught.
Failte Inishowen vowed to ensure that, while locals would do what they can to support the DP residents, they will hold the government to account and ensure that it meets its obligations. For example, there have been assurances that transport would be provided to get them to Dublin for meetings with the Dept of Justice, their solicitors, doctors etc. The locals will make sure that the Department carries through on those promises.
At the end of the meeting, over 50 people queued to leave their details and volunteer their time – a truly inspiring show of solidarity from Moville!