Africans in Wicklow warn of rising tension
Lack of sex a 'psychological challenge' for asylum seekers
“…men that are single, they are not having sex, they are not working, they are so idle, so the level of crime there, it will be rising, I am afraid.”
This is a transcript of audio sent to me following an interview conducted with two asylum seekers in Wicklow town.
The two men interviewed say they fled persecution in Africa.
They were accommodated at City West for three weeks before moving to the ballroom of the Grand Hotel in Wicklow.
The interview is set against the backdrop of a protest through the town the previous day and ongoing protests at East Wall in Dublin over Ireland’s controversial immigration policies.
The men describe the situation, particularly the lack of sex with wives left behind, as psychologically challenging.
The first man to speak declined to give his name but said there are some 255 men staying in the ballroom at the Grand Hotel:
“The situation was even worse at City West, because there was not enough beds there. But now here at the Grand Hotel there are beds, only the place is kind of overwhelmed, we are too many," he said.
“We came from Africa. We are running away from persecution. Ireland was welcome to us, only the conditions have been lacking here and there. Other than that I think we are okay,” he said.
Asked if he understands local concern over the demographics of new hotel residents alongside the lack of consultation, he replied ‘yes.’
“I can understand, I agree with their concerns. You can imagine 255 single men, coming into an area - even if it was in my country - still it would be a scare."
“So I understand where the concern comes from. And you know, 255 men with about 20 different cultures, even us in there we are really troubled,” he said.
“We are not allowed to drink in there but people are sneaking out to drink and then vomiting in the bathrooms so you can imagine the mess in there."
Does this African man think Ireland is racist?
“I don’t think so. We have been added so well, we have shelter, we have two meals a day and breakfast inclusive.
“Other than being so congested in one area, which comes with a lot of stress and diseases...You know, 255 men - most of them we are married - and now they are not having sex, that’s already another impact, psychologically.”
“So 255 men that are single, they are not having sex, they are not working, they are so idle, so the level of crime there, it will be rising, I am afraid,” he said.
Is there a solution?
“Yeah, I understand there should be a solution...to release the pressure on the Grand Hotel. The pressure is quite too much on the Grand Hotel,” he said.
The African man is made aware of the housing and homeless crisis. He is told of a local man sleeping in a tent in Bray since February.
“That is appalling. The people are right to be angry about that. It is appalling.”
A second African man is asked if he would like to contribute.
“I’m from Africa. The conditions (in the hotel) are appalling, we are too crowded. We are too many people here,” he said.
Is it dangerous in the hotel?
“It is. As you can see, single men, it’s a big problem. Different cultures, the number is overwhelming. Over 250 people in a room for one hundred (capacity). Three toilets for one hundred people. Four bathrooms, it’s overwhelming,” he said.
Do local people have a right to feel concerned?
“Definitely, it’s their community. We are coming here, there’ll be good and bad. But over 250 single men? It’s not so good,” he said.
Does he think Ireland is racist?
“Not at all, they are so friendly, welcoming. They are.”
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