As the song goes…‘People Help The People’

Posted on: 5th October, 2015

Category: News

Contributor: Mark Holland

I wonder, was ‘Live Aid’, 30 years ago, a musical event or a political one, or is it just “not that simple” as Mrs Thatcher said to Bob Geldof?

I have to put my hand up and say that I know nothing, but when it comes to a crisis, and consequent effective action, I’m in good company because neither does anyone else, that is the one thing I do know. I spent time in Iraq after the first Gulf war and I think its consequences are now beginning to bite.

It would of course be unwise not to listen to the counsel of the academics, anthropologists, and the economists of the national and European social services, but that amounts to sitting on our hands and discussing the matter, considering the best plan of action, until the cows wander off, dehydrate and expire. The UN is very good, expert, at doing this. Doing nothing is not just doing nothing – it is a negative response that is contributing to making the situation worse. Time is essential here; refugees become increasingly vulnerable, exponentially, as days and weeks of indecision and inaction move on, ultimately making the required course of action more radical and less effective.

We are already negligent in our duties to people that we can help from their awful fate.

The Lebanon is a country about one-eighth the size of the island of Ireland, with a population similar to our own. There is currently estimated to be 1.3 million Syrian refugees in that country, and Lebanon desperately needs the solidarity and support of the international community to continue to do its best to accommodate these people. These people have not fled their homes and homeland easily; the situation has been going on in Syria too long and they have hit breaking point.  Most of them actually believed that the international community would not allow their situation to become this far out of control, breaking so many international laws, without action. No doubt we will absolve ourselves with bringing the culprits to justice through the international courts long after the damage is done and these monsters have lost their teeth.

According to the Irish Independent, 40,000 new overseas workers arrived in Ireland last year (2014), more than 85 per cent working, all of them with a roof over their heads, and I personally haven’t seen any negative impact.

According to Failte Ireland we had 7.6 million visits last year (again 2014), visits as opposed to visitors, as some of these may have come and gone more than once, and again I personally wasn’t overwhelmed by such numbers.

Yes homelessness is a problem in this country, but it is a different problem and one that is used pathetically to excuse a vacuum of political will.

A single class Boeing 747 carries 660 people, and these things land and offload their passengers here without any particular impact, daily.

It initially takes courage, which in itself is a good thing, for us to show leadership in the international community, to show the way forward in the fabled land of welcomes. If we committed, now, to one plane load per week from Beiruit to Dublin (Cork or Shannon) for the next year, that would add up to a commitment to take in just less than 35,000 people that need our help and whose lives may be saved by our generosity. It would set down a marker to our European Union partners who could follow our lead with an enormous positive impact on a human crisis. It would be like sending out a huge big national Christmas card to the people of Syria saying “You need our help, what can we do?  You’re always welcome here.”

Now that would be music to my ears.


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