‘Ask yourself who is actually at these demonstrations’ – Philly McMahon urges locals to reject anti-refugee protests

Former Dublin footballer Philly McMahon says the recent anti-refugee protests in Ballymun do not reflect the attitude of most people in the area.

he Ballymun Kickhams club member firmly believes the community has been let down by successive governments – a frustration he says has been shared by many.

He said local volunteers put in a “huge amount” of time and effort every day to ensure the area’s development is going in the right direction.

However, he is concerned that narratives put forward by certain “far-right” groups in recent weeks threaten that progress.

The first in a series of protests against the provision of refugee shelters in Ballymun took place earlier this month, but Mr McMahon argued many of the people who took part in the early demonstrations were fed “misinformation”.

“If these people who are actually doing community activism — because they see there’s a problem in their community — if these people aren’t at this march, that gives you a good clue [to say] ‘Wait, who am I surrounding myself with?’” he said.

“If those [community activists] are not there, well then you must ask who is there? And then you see people speaking that you’ve never seen before.

“I’ve had a lot of people write to me since I published that post, ‘I felt like I was being manipulated.’ It was basically scaremongering.”

Seeing the demonstrations creating division, Mr McMahon posted a message on Facebook urging people to explain why they had joined
The protests.

He said the majority of people who raised concerns said they were uneasy because the asylum seekers being housed at Ballymun were “single, unscreened males”.

In response, he explained that many cases are not “single men” but “unaccompanied men” who have fled conflict zones to find a safe place for their families to join.

“Imagine if Ireland were at war, who would you put on a dinghy to go to Britain? Would you accommodate your mother, wife or children? They would send the young man to go over and set things up,” he said.

“They will take the risk and then look for family reunification.

So “single, unexamined men” was a huge misinformation.”

Mr McMahon also reached out to people who reacted negatively to his post to ask if they would like to raise their concerns and hear directly from some asylum seekers so they could learn more about “why they are here”. Out of 10 people he contacted, one was open to the idea.

Mr McMahon is part of the Ballymun For All group and said he “couldn’t be prouder” of the people and organizations that make up its membership.

“I would love it if Ballymun was a place that welcomed people. Because we’ve been convicted for so many years that if you’re from Ballymun you’re a criminal or whatever, I find it unfortunate that we now fall into the trap of convicting people,” he said.

“I know a family that is in a hotel and their mother is due to have a baby in the next few days and she was looking out her window at the protesters. I can imagine what this woman is going through and these are not Ballymun people.”

Mr McMahon said there had been a “turnaround” in attitudes recently and the protests had significantly reduced in size.

“People are starting to find out about who’s there,” he said

“I would ask the people who were at these protests to come and get involved with Ballymun For All. I hope this brings the community closer together,” he added.

“If you’re frustrated, let’s come together and actually help those areas. This diversity in our community could offer an opportunity, it’s important that people understand that.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/ask-yourself-who-is-actually-at-these-marches-philly-mcmahon-urges-locals-to-reject-protests-against-refugees-42311867.html ‘Ask yourself who is actually at these demonstrations’ – Philly McMahon urges locals to reject anti-refugee protests

Fry Electronics Team

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