Refugees Welcome

Pictured: Aerial ‘Refugees Welcome’ message on Sunday September 13th. Image by Steve Kingston.

Pictured: Aerial ‘Refugees Welcome’ message on Sunday September 13th. Image by Steve Kingston.

After the harrowing scenes in the news and the escalating crisis of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees dispersed across Europe, it seemed there was little an individual could do in the on-going politics around refugee aid and the Irish government’s role.

A group of Irish NGOs decided to form an alliance and organised a local event with a simple approach to demonstrate Irish support to the refugee crisis. The photo was planned to take place in advance of a meeting of the EU Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers the following day.

With the help of social media, and word of mouth locally, news spread that willing participants were to gather on Sandymount Strand at 2.30pm on Sunday September 13th.

At the last minute, the meeting time was pushed back to 3.30pm as a result of an unseasonably high tide but it did not seem to affect attendance and also allowed time for the heavy rain to subside.

Attendees were assigned to letters upon arrival and instructed by volunteer coordinators to stand along the outline of a series of large letters drawn in the sand to spell out a human ‘Refugees Welcome’ message.

With people of all ages and nationalities, dressed in vivid colours and raincoats, the overall numbers exceeded expectations and the various organisers ran excitedly from group to group to deliver updates via megaphone, repositioning lines and trying to keep everyone from moving too much.

The overflow of people was directed to form the shape of a heart just above the message and it was orchestrated for everyone to pop open their umbrellas filling the heart shape and adding a wonderful burst of colour to the image.

Once everyone was in position, a drone camera circulated above the giddy crowd of supporters to capture an aerial view of the understated but clear words of welcome and support.

By Caoimhe Fox