Refugees and asylum seekers
in Racism and social change in the Republic of Ireland
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This chapter examines how contemporary responses to refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland have been shaped by a legacy of exclusionary state practices and racism. It begins with an examination of responses to Hungarian refugees admitted soon after Ireland ratified the UN Convention. The chapter compares responses to asylum seekers from the late 1990s, when for the first time these began to arrive in Ireland in substantial numbers, to responses to Hungarian, Chilean, Vietnamese and Bosnian programme refugees during the previous four decades. The growing population of asylum seekers in Ireland was soon portrayed as a crisis by politicians and officials and within the media. The asylum seeker dispersal programme amounted to a form of social dumping within which the state took little responsibility for the needs of asylum seekers and host communities.

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