We’ve all by now seen the shocking pictures and stories of what is happening to people trying to get into Europe, or trying to get into the UK. I’m finding it hard to ignore. Today, I was reminded that I am the child of immigrants. My parents were born in Donegal, traditionally a poor county, in a poor country. For generations, people have left Donegal to seek a better life in other places, including many of my own family. Often the Irish have been welcomed in other places, but we shouldn’t forget the legendary “no dogs, no blacks, no Irish” signs. Few Irish fled persecution or danger in recent times – they were what are now called “economic migrants”. They were mostly lucky that legal options were available to them.
Those people desperate to get into Europe or the UK aren’t lucky. When we see what they are leaving, we can understand their reasons for wanting something better. But they aren’t just a mass of foreigners. They could so easily be my mum and dad, my aunts and uncles, my cousins. It could so easily be us out there. Having tried lots of other things, maybe it’s time we tried compassion.