By Dan Walsh
Sanctuary Ambassadors embarking on a campaign to ensure better conditions for asylum seekers in Co. Wexford have recently finalised a manifesto and today won the unanimous support of members at the monthly meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council held under Covid-19 guidelines at Gorey Courthouse.
A six-member delegation from Courtown and Rosslare were given a warm Gorey welcome and each made a presentation outlining their own particular circumstances but the over-riding message was that asylum seekers, especially families, should not be in Direct Provision for more than one year, involvement in the decision making process and the right to employment.
It was stated that all emergency centres should be closed or changed to official Direct Provision Centres with agreed standards and provision as a matter of urgency and minimum standards of IT, study space, self-catering, children’s play areas and transport to local centres should be established immediately.
District Manager Michael Drea said there are over 200 asylum seekers in the county who wish to make their residency more stable. “They are welcome to come here today to communicate their stories and I feel Gorey should become a Sanctuary town.”
Rania, a computer science from Sudan, thanked the Gorey community for making us welcome. “We want to use our skills to benefit the community,” she added.
Patrick, whose background is in sales and marketing, was clear and articulate as he outlined his personal circumstances and his experiences of shortcomings in the present system. “I want to integrate into the Wexford community,” and he added: “I trust the Wexford community.”
Cllr Mary Farrell thanked the delegates for their contributions. “It is great to hear your stories and thanks for your stories.”
Cathaoirleach Cllr Joe Sullivan said the Direct Provision system should be done away with it as it was “not fit for purpose.” He welcomed the ambassadors and promised to help them integrate and become part of the community.
The Wexford Sanctuary Ambassadors consists of about 30 asylum seekers representing more than 200 others from the county. Since November they have been meeting monthly to develop skills in public speaking, working with the media and Irish history and politics. Their objective is to make a meaningful contribution to their host community of Wexford and the State of Ireland.
Last February Wexford-based TD Brendan Howlin offered a practical introduction to the voting system, and since then the Wexford Sanctuary Manifesto has been compiled and circulated to all political figures in the county as well as key national leaders.