Friday, 28 August 2015

Coffin ships in the Mediterranean & lorries in Vienna

plural noun: migrants
  1. 1.
    a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.

 Before the emigrant has been a week at sea, he is an altered man. How can it be otherwise? Hundreds of poor people, men, women and children of all ages...huddled together without light, without air, wallowing in filth, and breathing a foetid atmosphere, sick in body, dispirited in heart, and fevered patients lying between the sound, in sleeping places so narrow as almost to deny them the  power of indulging, by a change of position, the natural restlessness of the disease, by their agonizing ravings disturbing those around. (Stephen De Vere White, a County Limerick magistrate.)
"Irish immigrants were only valuable at the time of paying their fares or beginning their indentures."

("Wherever Green is Worn - The Story of the Irish Diaspora by Tim Pat Coogan)

My father came to England in the late 1950s after several of his brothers had already made the journey.  The Irish were largely welcomed at the time although one hears reports of signs saying "No Blacks, Irish need apply for jobs." Our neighbours growing up were from Italy, Ireland, the West Indies - as such St Kitts, Jamaica.Indian families came later. We all seemed to get on - kids playing together asking each other "did you hear the one about the Englishman, the Irishman & the Scottish man?" There was a real community spirit.

I know that one of my great aunts made the journey from Bawnboy, Co Cavan (where we now live - back at my roots) to Ellis Island, New York where she obtained employment as a servant.

 Today many young Irish people still emigrate in the hope of finding good, secure employment.

In Tim Pat Coogan's narrative we reference find a memorial erected in Canada

"In this secluded spot lie the mortal remains of five thousand, four hundred and twenty-five persons who, flying from pestilence and famine in the year 1847,  found in North America but a grave."

More info in The History Place - the Irish Potato Famine - Coffin ships here

Regarding the Migrant Crisis in our times:(From April 2015)

Death of the European dream: The Mediterranean’s deadliest migrant disaster

After more than 800 refugees drowned when their boat capsized off Libya’s coast, conflict is still spurring desperate migrants to risk the world’s deadliest crossing inSEARCH of a better life, and Europe must find a practicalSOLUTION.
As African migrants continue to risk dangerous voyages in search of lives free from conflict or poverty, Europe — their destination of choice — is torn by competing demands for humanitarian action and political pragmatism. Link here
And today: 
Hundreds of people are feared dead after two boats carrying about 500 migrants sank off Libya, officials say.
The first boat, which capsized early on Thursday, had nearly 100 people on board. The second, which sank later, was carrying about 400 passenger. Link BBC News here
And :

Migrant crisis: Four arrests over Austria lorry deaths

Hungarian police say they have arrested four people over the discovery of the bodies of 71 migrants, thought to be Syrian, in a lorry in Austria.
Three of those arrested are Bulgarian and one is Afghan.
The victims included 59 men, eight women and four children who are thought to have been dead for about two days.

Link BBC News here


The Church, the prophetic voice of migrants here

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