Stories of resident unease over direct provision centres have blighted Ireland’s reputation as the place of 1,000 welcomes but two of the biggest clubs in the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland have been bucking the trend.
Bohemians signed up with Amnesty International to place the logo above of ‘Refugees Welcome’ on an alternative away shirt this season.
The collar of the kit also features the slogan ‘love football, hate racism’ and was welcomed by Amnesty International Director in Ireland Colm O’Gorman who said that “Bohemians and their supporters have an incredible track record on social justice issues. We have long appreciated and respected the practical solidarity they have shown for people seeking asylum and refugees, so this is a fantastic opportunity to bring our supporters together to call for an end to direct provision.”
“This is an ongoing human rights scandal. The system is fundamentally flawed, trapping people for years in limbo and isolating them from communities in inhumane, institutionalised conditions.”
Rival club Shamrock Rovers will also be renewing last year’s successful initiative that will bring up to 30 residents from the Towers Direct Provision Centre in Clondalkin to all of the Hoops home league games at Tallaght Stadium in 2020.
The initiative has again been supported by a number of members of the legal profession in Dublin headed by life-long Rovers fans Matthew Kenny of O’Sullivan Kenny Solicitors and Diego Gallagher of Byrne Wallace.
“We are delighted to be able to extend this fantastic initiative which we know from feedback received at the end of last season that the opportunity has been really appreciated by the residents from the Towers Direct Provision Centre in Clondalkin,” said Club Community Officer Tony O’Neill.
“We now have a whole new group of Rovers fans who have made friendships with other Hoops supporters and they really look forward to meeting up and enjoying the matchnight at Tallaght Stadium.”
Both initiatives paint a positive picture of the social awareness that exists across clubs. The Bohemians initiative has received international coverage including in the Guardian in England.