A solidarity rally is being held in Fermoy on Saturday in a counter response to an anti-immigration protest which took place earlier this week following the arrival of asylum seekers to an accommodation centre in the town.
On Wednesday up to 70 people protested outside St Joseph’s Convent calling for the immediate deportation of 62 newly arrived international protection applicants. The protest was led by Derek Blighe of Ireland First.
However, Fermoy and Mallow against Racism (FAMAR) have organised their own counter rally. They stress that Fermoy is a town that “welcomed refugees and continues to welcome refugees".
In a statement the group said that they cannot allow hate and division to take root in their town.
“We are a community in shock today at protests targeting refugee children and their families at their accommodation in the town. This is not Fermoy.
"Those who arrived are International Protection applicants, predominantly families from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc.
"Many of these people are fleeing war, persecution, ethnic cleansing and have been uprooted from their homes and have been placed in a foreign country, hours away from home, their families and their communities.
"These people are uncertain about their futures and are scared, many of them have children who are also scared.”
FAMAR say that Fermoy is a “welcoming and diverse place".
Let's make these people feel welcome in our community, let's show them the best of Fermoy.
“We see this in our workplaces, sports clubs and community organisations. Let's make these people feel welcome in our community, let's show them the best of Fermoy.”
Meanwhile, St Joseph’s Convent management and staff issued a statement in response to the anti-refugee protest earlier this week.
They said that the families who arrived originate from areas of conflict throughout the world.
“They comprise mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons. We would like to reassure everyone that most of our guests are women, and all of the male guests are part of a family unit. In summary we would like to reiterate that there are no single males in our facility.
"We thank sincerely the local Fermoy community who have been so supportive in helping us as we settle and look after our newly arrived guests.”
Up to 77 people can be accommodated in St Joseph's. A briefing notice to councillors from the Department of Children's Temporary Emergency Accommodation Programme for International Protection Applicants indicated that additional capacity will be brought on in phases over a number of weeks to year-end.
"Bringing the full capacity to 150 people. The residents will consist of families, couples and single females. This will not be a centre for single males."
The solidarity rally will take place at noon on Saturday at the Cistercian monk's statue at Christ Church in Fermoy.