‘There is no place for any protests againt refugees’ says Alliance MLA
East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has declared that there is no place for any protests about refugees, as he quizzed First Minister Paul Givan at Stormont yesterday.
Mr Dickson was referring specifically to the arrival of foreign nationals in Carrickfergus in July, when they were housed in the Loughshore Hotel by the Home Office.
Their presence sparked a raft of rumours online, but the authorities refused to shed any light on how many people were residing there, where they had came from, or why they were in Carrick.
For example, the Home Office declined to confirm if the people were immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers (people requesting refugee status).
Mr Dickson was speaking on Stormonts first day back after summer yesterday.
He called on Mr Givan to “condemn the actions of a small minority of people who protested in Carrickfergus recently at the presence of refugees there... and there’s no place for those people who wish to protest against those who have come from very difficult backgrounds to get to NI”.
Mr Givan said “Northern Ireland has always been a welcoming place” and added: “Its a matter for the Home Office ultimately to determine if people’s request for asylum ultimately leads to them staying here, but when they’re here its important there’s support provided.”
Seperately, only a few days ago SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone had said there was “no place” for “intolerant” traditional Christians who want to protest against an LGBTQQIA+ Pride parade in Mid Ulster.
Also hitting out Carrickfergus anti-immigrant sentiments was fellow Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong.
She said: “We have had disgusting and despicable accusations that those people will come to Northern Ireland, take our jobs and steal our homes.
“Those accusations have come not just from people outside the House but from elected representatives in other places in Northern Ireland.
“What communications will the First Minister put out to make it known that refugees are welcome and will be included here, and that any allegations about them taking our jobs or homes are to be absolutely taken out of the equation and not considered further?”
First Minister Paul Givan said: “The Member makes the point very well, and I agree with her. If anything, there is huge demand for jobs in Northern Ireland and a shortage of labour supply, so some people’s argument that refugees are taking our jobs does not stand when it is tested against job criteria and the number of jobs that need to be filled.”
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