10 November 2016 - A singer-songwriter who works for the Ireland region of trade union Unite is using his music to raise funds for refugees.  Davy Kettyles’ song Humanity was written to mark the first anniversary of the death of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned along with most of his family as they tried to reach safety in Europe.

Unite is hoping that the song will help raise funds for the Irish Refugee Council who assist refugees and asylum seekers both abroad and in Ireland.  The funds raised will go to assist those living in Direct Provision, and in particular to fund the further education of young people caught up in the asylum system and in Direct Provision. Members of the public can watch a video of the song Humanity and donate via Altruism Ireland.  

Davy KettylesSenior Organiser with the Ireland Region of Unite, explains what motivated him to write the song and use it to help raise funds for the Irish Refugee Council,

“I was powerfully moved by the death of little Aylan, and by the plight of so many people who have been forced to leave their homes because of war.  It’s a call for people to recognise the values of our shared humanity. “

“In addition to raising funds for the Irish Refugee Council, I hope this song will help raise awareness of the plight of refugees – not only on their journey to safety, but also on their arrival in Ireland where too many asylum seekers find themselves confronted by the inhumane system of Direct Provision.  The Irish Refugee Council is working to alleviate the situation of those caught up in the asylum system and in Direct Provision, and funds raised by this song will assist them in that work”.

Irish Refugee Council CEO Nick Henderson said: 

“We have an incredibly dedicated volunteer, Charlotte, who administers donations made by members of the public and other grants for access to education. In some cases, something as simple as bus ticket can be an obstacle to a young person in the asylum process attending a course. We do what we can to best support people but our ability to do this is for the most part dependant on the kindness of strangers who value education and see it as something that should be accessible to all. It is really important to note the generosity of the people of Ireland in this respect and the importance of fundraising efforts like Unite’s in assisting young people in this situation in accessing education.”

Henderson went on to say, 

“We are preventing young people from reaching their full potential and from contributing fully to academia and Irish life. We have created a situation where skilled, bright and talented young people sit around for months and years which is soul destroying for everyone involved. This education fund is one way to help alleviate this situation but, of course, better solutions must be found for the young people caught up in our asylum system.”

Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly concluded,

“The Irish Refugee Council has done fantastic work not only highlighting the plight of refugees, but also providing practical assistance to refugees and asylum seekers.  In particular, they have been working to expose the outrage of Direct Provision – an inhumane system of effective internment which, in years to come, will be viewed as our generation’s Magdalene Laundries scandal.”

“As a trade union, Unite is particularly pleased that the funds raised by Davy’s song will go to help fund access to education for young people in Direct Provision.  These young people are the workers and union members of tomorrow, and they must be given every opportunity to contribute fully to the communities in which they live.  Unite has repeatedly expressed our opposition to Direct Provision, most recently at our last Policy Conference.  I hope that Davy’s song will not only raise awareness of the ongoing human crisis faced by refugees, but will also raise substantial funds for the Irish Refugee Council’s work”.

The chorus of Humanity runs as follows:

“Why can’t you see, they’re just people like you and like me.

And what would you do, if it happened to me and to you?”

- ENDS -

Alex Klemm, Unite press office, 0872606139

Caroline Reid, Irish Refugee Council Communications Officer, 0858585510

Notes to Editor

While the Department of Education and Skills’ Pilot Student Support Scheme, announced in 2015, is a welcome first step in this area, it contains strict criteria which means few children caught up in the asylum system can avail of it. A person must have spent five years in an Irish school, five years in the asylum process, completed their Leaving Certificate and not have a deportation order against them.