Delegates at Fórsa’s Local Government and Local Services conference, which opened this evening (Wednesday) in Cork, have unanimously backed a motion supporting union policies to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers.
Speaking to the motion put forward by the union’s Local Government executive, Fórsa member Gerry Quigley said the union actively opposes protests designed to intimidate people living in direct provision and refugee centres.
Mr Quigley, who works at Dun Laoighre/Rathdown County Council, said he was proud to see the union’s strong presence at February’s anti-racism rally in Dublin, and that the union’s Mayo branch had voiced its opposition to anti-immigration motions at Mayo County Council last week.
He added: “As trade unionists, we need to be firm in our opposition to populist opportunism. If the far-right ratchet up the welfare-chauvinist line and attempt to divide sections of the workforce by pitting a ‘deserving’ native workforce against a ‘feckless’ foreign one, the union will be mobilising again and again.”
Fórsa national secretary Richy Carrothers added: “Screaming at five-year-olds outside direct provision centres cannot be tolerated. Hate speech is not free speech. The vast majority of people do not subscribe to the racist ideology behind such protests.
“Far-right actors are using the housing crisis and cost-of-living to instil fear and division. The housing crisis is multi-generational and systemic. It is not the fault of refugees or asylum seekers. Our union supports efforts for refugees to live with dignity, in peace, and free from harassment and intimidation.
“The trade union movement must continue to stand in solidarity with those who have escaped conflict, oppression, climate and economic catastrophe to come to Ireland in search of safety and a better life,” he said.
Delegates backed a conference motion calling on the union’s executive to work with the union’s nationwide branch network to promote positive relations between communities and people living in direct provision and asylum centres, and to recommend proactive solidarity measures to the union’s branch network.
The new union policy also calls for engagement with the Department of Local Government, Housing and Heritage to ensure that local authorities are promoting an “inclusive and harmonious” approach to community integration with refugees and asylum seekers.
Mr Carrothers added: “By supporting these policies we stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers and against the right-wing reactionary forces whipping up hysteria and hatred.”
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