Racism against Irish refugees - we should know our own history

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Cartoon showing racism against Irish Refugees during famine - simian featured refugee with whisky bottle and flaming brand on top if barrel of Gunpowder"As a housing activist who is seeing directly family after family evicted, fighting with them to stay in their homes, facing court to open up buildings and fighting more generally so that everyone has a home and housing is a right, I don't want to see housing and homeless used to attack refugees. We can help the homeless AND refugees. Get involved in housing and homeless groups, get involved in anti-racism groups, take down this government, tear down this racism, sexist, classist state."

Housing activist Seamus Farrell used this powerful image of anti Irish racism from the 19th century to remind us that the refugees fleeing Syria have far more in common with us than the billionaire's that run this county. He circulated it with the following text during the week

150 years ago we, the Irish arrived in coffin ships to America, starving with family dead and in a strange new land. We arrived in Australia as convicts forced into labour. We arrived in the UK where we were forced to work in the new factories for near nothing, live in tenements and struggle to feed our families.

Arriving in these lands, we were called animals, scum, convicts and criminals. People said 'we have so little. why are the immigrants coming here to make our life worse? people were called to care for there own, others attacks us and tried to get us out. We were a desperate suffering people at home and abroad.

Fast forward 100 years and we are in a free state which failed its people, pushed its people into tenements, provided no jobs, held the country under the oppressive bind of the church who abused our children, the state which abandoned its people and a rich class who held their wealth and exploited our workers. Our people were again forced to leave, again called criminals, scum, animals and most of all we were now, enemies and terrorists. Many all so used more reasonable words, 'look after our own first', encouraged by their leaders to close their eyes and hearts and turn on each other.

Today again we still live in a failed state. 99 years after the rising that was mean to provide a republic of democracy, equality and justice we have a society for the rich, that calls water protesters criminals, housing activists terrorists and working class people scum.

150 years ago they tried to divide us at home and punish us abroad
50 years ago they tried to divide us at home and punish us at abroad

Today they do the same.

As someone born in Ireland, who's family generation after generation have been forced to leave and who emigrated himself I can't but feel and think that refugees and us have common cause. As a human being who feels were connect by our experiences and by our common fight against oppression I can't help but stand with refugees.

Finally as a housing activist. Who is seeing directly family after family evicted, fighting with them to stay in their homes, facing court to open up buildings and fighting more generally so that everyone has a home and housing is a right, I don't want to see housing and homeless used to attack refugees. We can help the homeless AND refugees. Get involved in housing and homeless groups, get involved in anti-racism groups, take down this government, tear down this racism, sexist, classist state. Finally, I understand people worried because we don't have much, but that is the fault of the richest in our society not those fleeing war. Don't fall for the tactics of the establishment, of this anti-people state.

Stand for all children, for all people, for everyone oppressed. Stand together.

(Photo below was a cartoon depicting the Irish, the emigrant the 'criminal' fleeing their homes and unwelcome in a new land.)

Words: Seamus Farrell

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