FOURTH SESSION, 25 MARCH – POLITICIANS ROUND TABLE
The fourth session centred on a politicians’ round table. Present were Kathleen Fahy (Fine Gael Dublin regional organiser), Senator Catherine Ardagh (Fianna Fail), Sean Crowe (Sinn Fein TD for Dublin South West), Brian McDonagh (Labour councillor, Fingal County Council) and Sarah Jane Hennelly (vice-chair, Social Democrats). Bríd Smith of People Before Profit sent her apologies. The chair was businessman and journalist Fintan Drury.
Each politician briefly outlined their parties’ position on key issues, including refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. All of them expressed opposition to Direct Provision. There were lively interchanges between the participants and the politicians – notably on the issue of Direct Provision. The politicians promised to facilitate a meeting in Leinster House, the Irish parliament’s building, between the Sanctuary in Politics group and a wider range of politicians at which the group would present a manifesto they were preparing on refugee and migrant issues. Kathleen Fahy said she would endeavour also to arrange a meeting with the Minister of State in charge of migration, David Stanton.
Assignments were handed in by all participants after this session. They were reviewed by members of the City of Sanctuary Dublin core group and all agreed that the standard was much higher than last year. They ranged from a moving story of violence and flight by an African asylum seeker; a poster and slide show on racism; an article entitled ‘Direct Provision: Accommodation Centre or Graveyard?’; a poster on the problems faced by an eastern European athlete and asylum seeker competing internationally for his Irish club; and photos of a debate on the International Protection Act in Leinster House.
At a short afternoon session, volunteer Niall Sargent, a journalist, showed participants how to take photos on their mobile phones that would be suitable for publication in the press.