Press release
Issued by Clare Public Participation Network
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

Clare PPN Secretariat calls on Clare communities to reject the involvement of far right agitators in community concerns

Far-right groups offer us nothing – we must refuse to pit those with least power against each other

Clare Public Participation Network (PPN) is a network of more than 350 community groups based in County Clare. Since its establishment in 2014 many of its member groups have been active on social, environmental and community issues in Clare. This has included working to welcome newcomers to our communities, including refugees and asylum seekers, and campaigning to end the damaging segregating system of direct provision.

We have been inspired and proud of the leadership, compassion and empathy people and groups all over Clare have shown to people arriving in our communities from places as far flung as Syria, Iran, Somalia, Eritrea, Iraq and Afghanistan and most recently Ukraine. We have had the pleasure of watching many of these new arrivals find their feet, find jobs, start businesses and, better still, start socialising and playing sport and music and fitting right in to the vibrant lively culture that exists in Clare. The people who have arrived here are an extraordinary benefit to the county and apart from their social contributions it is clear to those of us involved that our care services, tourism enterprises, health services and the construction industry would struggle without their presence.

Alongside all of these positives, Clare PPN members – including those from new communities – have worked their hardest to raise the very real issues that do face us as a county: the unequal provision of services, housing, public transport, health services and mental health supports for our communities, poverty, lack of addiction supports, poor services and access to employment for people with disabilities and the continuing discrimination against the Traveller community.

Clare PPN just last year released a ground-breaking report on poverty in the county which has generated huge attention and amongst other issues demonstrated that we have a huge vacancy rate in housing in Clare with nearly 1 in 5 houses in the county vacant. Clare PPN understands fully and shares the frustrations of its member groups at the lack of effective political action to remedy the poor provision of services and housing in the county and we stand with them in every way we can from lobbying and campaigning to protesting.

As people living and working in Clare we face the same issues. We are concerned, however, to see the recent rise in attempts by known individuals and groups to use these genuine concerns to manipulate communities into anti-migrant and anti-refugee sentiment.

Whilst Clare PPN is no cheerleader for this Government’s problematising approach to handling migration and international protection, which is detrimental for both migrants and communities, we are clear that not one of the issues we face in Clare was caused by migrants or migration. They are caused by the failure by successive governments to prioritise the socio-economic rights of citizens and residents and their reliance on market-based solutions to provide essential basic entitlements.

Far-right agitators have been active before in Clare but with little success – in Lisdoonvarna, Ennis, and nearby in Kinvara, Co Galway. Our communities saw through these attempts to pit people against each other and instead acted to welcome people to their neighbourhoods, while continuing to demand better resources and services. The very same agitators went on to cause community division and upset in Oughterard and Rooskey and Moville to name but a few places.

We were extremely concerned to see some of the same individuals show up again in Shannon today (28th January) at a community gathering. Given recent events around Ireland, Clare PPN is extremely concerned that the groups of far right agitators DO present the prospect of violence in our communities and we are calling on all the community groups to reject their presence, and to reject their messages of division.

Far-right groups offer us nothing and have no contribution that will benefit us. They have no solutions to our housing or health issues. In recent weeks we’ve seen the resurgence of a very well-supported community-led campaign to restore our health services, with people from three counties standing together in unity. This is the kind of action we need more of: we need to take our concerns to the centre of power — to our TDs, Senators, Government – and we must refuse to pit those with least power in our communities against each other.

We’ve shown it before, we’re better than that in Clare. The Banner can do better.

Ní neart go cur le chéile

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