There are two different topics here. Related, but different.

If you want to know what my basic attitude is to both immigrants and refugees - especially compared to mad racist Irish's easy. I'll stand with the refugees and the immigrants, thanks.

I'm a proud Irishman and it's a proud Irish value to welcome guests and to look after the unfortunate.

Meantime, they're still two different topics. Related, but different.


When I was young Ireland was one of the most racially homogenous places in the world. White people EVERYWHERE. More freckles than you could shake a stick at. We didn't know any different.

My mother tells a story of when she was at school, and a family adopting a "black baby". The sight of a black baby stopped the town. People had never seen a black baby before. But their reaction was one of interest and delight and of welcome. My mother is in her eighties, so this was a while ago, but THAT'S the traditional Irish attitude to strangers. A great welcome.

In recent decades Ireland has seen immigration from all over Europe and from around the world. Dublin's Lord Mayor recently was an Irish woman with a Chinese family name. Ireland has possibly the highest percentage of foreign-born population in the EU and is the better for it. Poles, Estonians, British, French, Germans, Americans, Spaniards and more. And if you don't think Ireland is better for it well then I just disagree with you....and you're an idiot.

Politically, while I don't think much of Leo Varadkar, I think the fact that we had the son of an Indian immigrant as our Taoiseach is really a good thing. I'm proud of that even while I don't like Varadkar himself.

How much immigration is the right amount? I don't know. I don't worry about it much. If it's intra-EU migration I don't even think of it as immigration. And whatever the number, I have no desire to see a return to the times when Ireland was nothing more than a source of emigrants. Meantime, there's an issue with how many immigrants (EU immigrants in particular) really have no political representation here. We should look at things to do. An EU constituency? An EU Senate panel?

And if anyone tries to blame immigrants for our housing crisis, they're idiots. The housing crisis was and is all home-grown.


Refugees are fleeing. They didn't decide one day to abandon lives and take some flimsy raft across the Mediterranean.

We've seen recently how Syrians fled the war there. Decent people forced to run for their lives. We see sometimes gay people fleeing from countries where they might just get killed in the street for being gay. Decent people forced to run for their lives.

It is morally obnoxious to treat refugees badly. Particularly given Ireland's history...where we often smeared the distinction between refugee and economic migrant to the maximum. Are you a refugee or an economic migrant if you're starving and would work for food? That's a good discussion. But if you're fleeing oppression or death, then you're entitled to help. You're entitled under rules of international law, under rules of plain decency, under the rules of Irish tradition.

And in terms of how we treat people now?

Ireland's direct provision system is a stain on the country. We should be ashamed of it. We should treat refugees well, process them quickly, afford them their human dignity. And yes, if someone is actually an economic migrant and not an actual refugee (sometimes a difficult judgement call) then we should process those people as immigrants and not as refugees.

Meantime, if you can look at that picture of the little boy dead on the beach and not want to help refugees, screw you.