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Racial abuse turned asylum seekers off Clare nightclubs in 1990s

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Clare’s Direct Provision residents of 2020 have reported being warmly welcomed to the county, the same was not said by Cuban asylums who lived in Ennis in the late nineties.

On January 5th 1996, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Foreign Affairs Joan Burton travelled to Ennis in order to open a new Refugee Council Office. In the aftermath of the visit, serious contentions and worries began to arise concerning the suitability of Ennis in supporting a network of asylum seekers.

At the time, the town of Ennis was housing a total of fifty-seven asylum seekers. One of those was Miriam Perez, who had come from Cuba and felt severely curtailed by a system that forbade her from working or travelling.

Tania Verzanova also a Cuban refugee, arrived in Shannon in 1994, admitting that she had never heard of Ireland and presumed she had landed in the United States.

Miriam Perez left Cuba after she wrote a book concerning political struggles in Cuba and in doing so, endangered her life. Tania Verzanova left Cuba due to the violence of the government at such a trying time in her nation’s history.

One Gambian man seeking asylum in Ennis admitted that he longer attended disco’s in town due to an onslaught of racial abuse.

Although the majority of asylum seekers coming into Ennis between 1994 and 1996 were delighted with the magnanimity shown by the Refugee Council and the Ennis Refugee Office, the majority of them wanted to return home at some point.

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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