St Parick - Immigrant and Saint

st-patrick

Each year on March 17, Irish people the world over celebrate the feast of St. Patrick.  His own life seems to fade out of the picture now, with the emphasis on a St. Patrick's Festival, accompanied by  much light-heartedness, greenness and Guinness. A big coup for Ireland seems to be the “greening” of iconic buildings elsewhere, such as the Sydney Opera House.  However all this misses the whole point of St. Patrick's significance.

Think about it. Patrick, son of a Roman citizen in Wales, and himself a Roman citizen – one of the greatest claims to glory in the ancient world – is somehow captured by pirates off the west coast of England, bound with ropes, brought to Ireland and sold as a slave. In the year 432. As an educated young man he would not have been used to real hardship, but he found himself out in the fields in cold, bare countryside, minding sheep. He did not know where he was and could not speak the strange language he heard all around him. He had no way of communicating his whereabouts to his family. He was habitually cold and half starved. He was lonely, but determined to survive somehow, and escape if at all possible. He found himself praying constantly, night and day, and having endured six years of slave labour, he heard a voice instructing him to travel to a certain place where a foreign boat had anchored, and so he escaped. The journey wasn't easy, however, and Patrick was captured a second time, but only for two months, after which he was able to return to his family. Despite the trauma of his captivity he returned later as a bishop giving his heart and soul and all his strength tor the rest of his life to preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God to the Irish, including the High King. This is the man we celebrate on March 17. A great Christian apostle in the tradition of St. Paul.  

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Overcoming Frontiers

January 2015 has seen little easing of violence in the world at large. And not just “far away”. Not many weeks ago there was an horrific series of attacks in France, leaving 17 innocent civilians dead, plus 3 of those carrying out the attacks. Of course it provoked further calls for tighter restrictions to be placed on immigrants and asylum seekers, and was fuel for the racist French National Front Party.  Yet it was an African Muslim, a refugee awaiting acceptance into the country, who was hailed as a hero for sheltering many shoppers in a cold store of the targeted Jewish supermarket. He was subsequently awarded citizenship within a week.

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Direct provision needs ‘urgent action’, say Catholic bishops

Irish Times 11th December: Bishops have appealed for urgent action by the Government to address the direct provision system for asylum seekers. Read more

 

Ireland needs to learn lessons from France
 Irish Times 13 Jan
Lobbying for illegal Irish in US contrasted with approach to immigrants here, retired judge says – read more

 

HOPE FOR CHANGE AT LAST ?
Direct provision has been consistently challenged by activists, politicians and human rights lawyers by advocacy and in the courts over the past few years with numerous articles on the topic, including some of those below,  linked to on this website. The system has been widely condemned. Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness, refugee support groups and childcare expert Geoffrey Shannon amongst others have claimed that Ireland is in breach of constitutional and European human rights.

Yet every challenge and criticism has, up to now, washed over or been soaked up by government authorities without any change.  Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel?  This article by Liz O’Donnell in the Irish Independent (26 July 2014) points to a change of attitude with the appointment of the new Labour Minister of State Aodhan O Riordain at the Department of Justice.  Is there hope at last that the Direct Provision system will be reformed?  Read more

 

NOTICE BOARD

OPEN SECRETS - free Kindle download

OPEN SECRETS - free Kindle download

Open Secrets: An Irish Perspective on Trafficking and Witchcraft. To mark the first anniversary of its publication the Kindle version of the Book is now being made available free of charge and can be downloaded from Amazon.com.  Hard copies of the book are still available for purchase directly from the SMA Justice Office, African Missions, Wilton, Cork. Email: justice@sma.ie  Cost: €19.10  

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