Sunday, May 19, 2024

‘We’re not racist’ – local mothers bring toys and warm clothes for children in Racket Hall asylum accommodation

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They collected bags of toys from their own homes and added bags of new underwear and gloves as well as second-hand clothes for the families.

They said they did not want to be portrayed as racists after scuffles broke out when the families were being brought into the hotel. They were also critical of the way yesterday’s operation was carried out.

“The families arrived with whatever clothes they had on their backs, so this is our way of showing support to them right now and we hope they get the services they need,” said Ebony Doherty outside the hotel.

Local women carry bags of toys and clothes to the main door at Racket Hall in Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Photo: Frank McGrath

“We have new underwear and socks and gloves, coats and toys, just small simple things, a small gesture to make them feel more comfortable,” she added.

Another local resident, Geraldine Hough, said they were against what the Government was doing in relation to housing the asylum seekers in the hotel. She was critical of how the gardaí brought the children through the protest yesterday.

Caroline Phelan pictured outside Racket Hall, near Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Photo: Frank McGrath

“They did not make it safe for kids to come in here. They bulldozed their way here and they were blaming us for it, but it was the guards and the public order unit. They pulled kids into the middle of it,” she said, adding that she had toys in the attic at home belonging to her own children and she thought they might bring some comfort to the children now housed in the hotel.

Local women leave bags of toys and clothes outside the main door of Racket Hall in Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Photo: Frank McGrath

“They’re in there now and we can’t do anything about it. And I hope that these women and children stay as women and children, and that they’re not taken off somewhere else and single men are moved in, because all it is is hearsay. Nobody is telling us anything, and we’ve seen it where they’re saying that there’s families coming in, but we see very little families around the place, and the families that are here have been welcomed. And we are doing our best for these kids because at the end today we’re all mothers here,” said Ms Hough.

She said she would welcome more people if they were women and children.

Grandmother Caroline Phelan said local people were disappointed about the way they had been described by the media yesterday. “We were portrayed as being racist and everything that goes with it. We’re not. We’re people from Roscrea trying to look after our town. What happened here yesterday was the fault of the riot police. I saw a family, a mother, a father, and three children getting off that bus and being brought through all of that (group of protesters). Had we known that there was children going to be getting off that bus, we would have stood back and let them into the hotel no problem,” she said.

Local women Ebony Doherty with Rodika Kennedy and Sarah Kennedy pictured with bags of toys and clothes for asylum seeker children staying at Racket Hall in Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Photo: Frank McGrath

She said that after those parents and children went into the hotel, the bus pulled into an area at the back of the hotel and the remaining families got off there, and that there was no need for the first family to be brought through the crowd.

“I have great sympathy for the mother and children that came through. I saw a boy’s face. I’ll never forget his little face, and he was terrified. Santa Claus came to our children, but he did not come to those children, and we have lots of stuff we are going to gather up, clothes and toys they might need, and we are going to bring them out here and let them people in there know we’re not here because we have anything against them, we haven’t,” she added.

The group of women then brought the bags of toys and clothes to the hotel door, and a garda on duty at the protest was asked to contact the management of the hotel so that the bags could be collected and distributed to the families inside.

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