Asylum seekers and local residents should meet in order ‘break down prejudices’ a lecturer in Contemporary Islam has suggested. 

In recent days, locals in East Wall, Dublin have been protesting the decision of the State to house asylum seekers in an old ESB building. 

Chants of “Get them out” have been heard at the demonstrations and one man could be heard shouting “Hang them”

Asylum seekers have told Newstalk they find the atmosphere in the area “very intimidating” and are concerned for their safety. 

For Amanullah De Sondy, questions of immigration and identity are things he has considered deeply; his parents emigrated from Pakistan to Scotland and he has lived in Ireland for seven years now. 

He described the events of recent days as “deeply concerning” and suggested more dialogue would help: 

“We need better conversations and what we need is to think about a moment where you get to meet these individuals,” he told Lunchtime Live. 

“We all carry a lot of stereotypes and prejudices based on what somebody looks like and I think what we need to do is to break those down and you break those down by actually meeting the individuals and having the conversations. 

“And still holding very strongly to the idea that Ireland is open to immigrants and refugees and that’s a tricky balance when people are afraid of someone who is very different from them.” 

Garda National Immigration Bureau. Image: Rodrigo Bellizzi / Alamy Garda National Immigration Bureau. Image: Rodrigo Bellizzi / Alamy

Some have questioned whether events in East Wall means that Ireland’s famous Céad Míle Fáilte no longer holds true – something Mr De Sondy does believe is true. 

“I’m reluctant to offer such a general conclusion that we are becoming less welcoming,” he said. 

“I think there is a small fringe of individuals who are on the side of… racism, of burning bridges, of Ireland being exclusively one thing. 

“And I think that is being challenged by the fact that we are now seeing an emergence of a multicultural, multi faith [society].”

Main image: Gardaí along Dublin’s East Wall, as protesters demonstrate against the use of an old ESB building for asylum seekers, 22-11-2022. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews