'Shameful' | 

Priest says Irish people protesting refugees is like ‘Black Americans supporting slavery’

Fr Sean McManus said that Irish people who reject the idea of immigration are denying their “own experience and history”.

Fr Sean McManus

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

A Catholic priest based in America has said that Irish people protesting against asylum seekers is no different to “Black Americans supporting slavery”.

Fr Sean Mc Manus, who was born in Co Fermanagh but now lives in the US, was responding to an Irish Times article about far-right groups and the spread of anti-immigration ideologies following a slew of protests over the housing of refugees across Dublin and other towns.

He said that Irish people who reject the idea of immigration are denying their “own experience and history” coming from a country that has seen millions of its natives move abroad.

“Mother of God! — Who, by the way, gave birth to Jesus Christ in a stable because there was no room in the inn—how could this be happening in Ireland?” the priest wrote.

“Irish people in Ireland—or America or any place in the world—opposing immigrants would appallingly be like Black Americans supporting slavery; or Jewish-Americans supporting historic, worldwide anti-Semitism. In other words, a total betrayal of their own experience and history, indeed, the denial of their very soul.

Fr McManus said the “far right Irish ‘patriotism’” mentioned in the Irish Times’ article “flagrantly and shamefully renounces not only the Gospel-based social justice teaching of the Catholic Church on the rights of immigrants, but also the basic human decency, humanity, and solidarity of people of no faith but of goodwill.”

“‘Love of neighbor’—and, therefore, love of God—means doing social justice for all God’s daughters and sons on this earth,” he continued, before adding that racism disguised as “Irish patriotism” is inspired by the likes of Oliver Cromwell and Margaret Thatcher rather than Wolfe Tone, James Connolly, and Padraig Pearse.

It comes after Junior Minister Joe O’Brien said protests against asylum seekers “won’t work” and will not change Government policy.

He told Newstalk listeners that gardaí are “monitoring people who are trying to mobilise and spread hate and spread racism”.

“It is tricky to give them all one message except to say that what you did won’t work and what you’re calling for won’t happen,” he said.

"Some of you will have legitimate gripes; you may be legitimately angry about other things that have nothing to do with the people living in the buildings that you are protesting outside but there are better and more productive ways to bring your dissatisfaction through the political system as well”.

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