Bishop Brendan Leahy
BISHOP of Limerick, Brendan Leahy, has said that in the lead up to Limerick’s resettlement programme for Syrian refugees, care must be taken “not to import a classification into our migrants”.
“The issue for me is that we will have a variety of migrants coming; we have European migrants, non-European migrants who are coming with a work permit, then we have people who are coming under resettlement programmes, then we have relocation programs and the asylum seekers who are already here.
“I am slightly nervous that we will end up with categories of migrants, and that would be unfortunate because we would end up importing a classification into our migrants.”
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council stated that the Syrians, who will be arriving to Limerick in the next number of weeks, will have the same rights and entitlements as an Irish person, under the 1951 Geneva Convention.
Bishop Leahy said: “It could end up that we have those that are looked after better, those who are looked after less well or those who are told to just get on with it.
“I think we need to be careful that those who are in the asylum system for 10 years don’t drop down the attention span and are left here waiting for their asylum.”
Bishop Leahy said that the biggest thing we can offer people is hospitality and welcome, with small gestures making a difference.
He added: “We need to support migrants in whatever way we can and by our solidarity. We need to remember our own history of emigration.
“It’s not just our grandparents who emigrated, it’s members of our own family. We have to ask ourselves how were there treated when they went there and project that back to ourselves.”
A past UL student, Syrian-born Razan Ibraheem, who came to Ireland five years ago said that it is “hugely important the first impression of any person. If they feel they are welcomed in the society then it will be hugely different.”
Bishop Leahy said that after Christmas, the hype about the migrants lulled and that this has meant our focus on migrants has diminished a bit.
He said: “This is the very period where we could start preparing ourselves. I’d love to see a bit more coordination going on between us all at this stage. As a migrant to Limerick myself, I have been very welcomed.”
Laura McAndrew is a journalism and new media student in UL