“Unbelievable! Somali Refugee Remains Unperturbed Amidst Clare Protest, Claiming ‘I’ve Seen It All’.”
On Thursday May 18, 2023, Magowna House became subject to a rather surreal scene. A pile of silage bale obstructed the entrance to the hotel. The presence of asylum seekers, placed there without consultation or warning, had sparked outrage among the locals and turned the Clare townland into a political hot pot. However, for Somali refugee Ismail David Ismail, it was yet another obstacle to overcome in his pursuit of a peaceful life in Ireland. “Bro, this is easy,” he told journalists, gesturing with his hand as he recounted the horrors he had witnessed in his homeland. To him, this small protest was nothing compared to what he had experienced. He had seen things most people could not even imagine – death and destruction on a scale that defies description. So, a few angry people blocking the road did not faze him. He was here to make friends and build a new life.
Meanwhile, the protesters continued to cling to their grievances, with some refusing to talk to the press and others insisting that they would continue their blockade “until satisfactory answers are given.” Only one man, tech worker Chris Primo, challenged their tactics, deeming it “inappropriate to block a public road.” Yet, their defiance showed no signs of waning, creating a sense of perplexity as to what would happen next.
A meeting between local representatives and Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman turned out to be fruitless. The minister was adamant that closing the hotel as a centre for asylum seekers was not an option, while Deputy Mayor of Clare, Mary Howard, expressed concern over the location, suitability and access to services of the hotel. As confusion reigned over the number of asylum seekers still remaining in the hotel, the protesters appeared to be digging in for the long haul. The whole situation was one of intense burstiness, oscillating between periods of relative calm and sudden outbursts of emotion.