'They're just people looking for safety' - Philly McMahon on Ballymun protests

"People in Ballymun are coping on to these people, and I think that's important"
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.23 24 Jan 2023

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'They're just people looking f...

'They're just people looking for safety' - Philly McMahon on Ballymun protests

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.23 24 Jan 2023

Share this article

Former Dublin footballer Philly McMahon has said people from his native Ballymun are 'coping on' to misinformation and right-wing groups.

He was speaking as a number of representatives for the north Dublin area issued a joint statement, condemning protests against migrants.

The statement reads, in part: "We stand in solidarity with the vast majority of the people of Ballymun in opposing the abuse and hatred directed at refugees and asylum seekers in Ballymun over the last few days.


"Men, women and children, be they residents or newcomers, should not fear for their safety in their homes or on our streets."

Philly, who is one of the signatories, told The Hard Shoulder he reached out on social media to understand what was going on.

"People that posted back - it was very interesting for me - it was over 800 comments," he said.

"So I wanted to learn the other side of it as well; also I wanted to see - there was a lot of people talking about misinformation and maybe some right-wing extremists getting involved.

"I'm from Ballymun, so playing with the Dubs for long enough - we've had a saying where we stand on the shoulders of giants.

"Certainly community activism in Ballymun has been massive, because of the problems and the neglect we've had from Governments over the years.

"I think it was right for me to just understand people a bit more in the area, and I was very grateful to be able to be a signatory for the Ballymun For All".

'We need to come together'

Philly said he wanted to help address people's concerns.

"A lot of those people that originally went to the protest on day one, a lot of them are actually not going to the protests anymore - I'm proud to say that," he said.

"There's a lot of people contacting me that are open to say 'I'm learning a little bit more, and I'm not getting involved in those protests - but I'm still concerned of these things'.

"That's great, but we need to come together as a community even tighter now and see what we can do to impact the concerns you have."

'If we were in war in Ireland'

He said it is important to understand why people are coming here.

"There's a hotel that accommodates families and an apartment block that accommodates unaccompanied males - not single, unvetted males.

"A lot of the people that were probably protesting originally - what I've seen on my post is - they didn't understand reunification or repatriation.

"I think that piece of education is very important.

"I was trying to make the point that... if we were in war in Ireland, and your only option really was to illegally send somebody across the Irish Sea to a safe country in the UK, who would you put in the dinghy going across the ocean?

"It's very expensive, it's very dangerous and I think it's very important for people to realise if they're taking those extreme risks, they're just people looking for safety".

'Who are these people?'

Philly said people in the area "have turned a corner" against misinformation.

"There's a lot of people turning their backs on these people because they can see them a mile away," he said.

"These people are saying they're organising these events, and having this amount of people in Ballymun and they're speaking at the protests.

"I'm sure people that were there originally are saying 'Who are these people talking... what have they actually done for Ballymun? What have they done around homelessness? What have they done around criminality?'

"These are people saying 'Protect Irish women against refugees', and the same people opposed abortion rights.

"People in Ballymun are coping on to these people, and I think that's important," he added.

Main image: Philly McMahon of Dublin during the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Launch at Charlestown, Dublin in August 2021. Picture by: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

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Ballymun Ballymun For All Ballymun Protests Misinformation Philly McMahon Right-wing Groups The Hard Shoulder

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