Why are we such a nation of begrudgers?

Why can’t we just be happy? Be happy that for once our Government has made the right decision. Be happy in the knowledge that we’re doing the right thing. Be happy that our country can provide safety for those who deserve it. Be happy to know we can return the favour, the gift of freedom, to our global neighbours.

But no.

That would be too good to be true.

Heaven forbid we’re happy for someone who’s being given a second chance.

It was announced this week that Ireland is to take in two inmates from Guantánamo Bay detention centre in Cuba. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern confirmed this after meeting with Ireland’s new US Ambassador Dan Rooney.

This is a major breakthrough for human rights.

Our agreement to welcome two detainees should be seen as good news, with their resettlement to Ireland scheduled for the coming months. Last week an Irish delegation, including officials from the Department of Justice and a Garda representative, visited Guantánamo to interview two Uzbek detainees about resettlement in Ireland.

One of the two men is understood to be Oybek Jamoldinivich Jabbarov (31 ). Amnesty International has lobbied the Government to accept Mr Jabbarov for resettlement here. He has been cleared for release since February 2007 but remains at Guantánamo because he cannot return to Uzbekistan due to fears of torture and persecution.

It is hoped that the US detention camp will be closed next year by President Obama. The prison has held hundreds of prisoners outside the US legal system since 2002. However America has struggled to convince European countries to accept detainees who cannot return to their home country.

So with all this considered you’d think we’d be pretty happy with ourselves for welcoming these guys to the Emerald Isle. Right? Wrong!

I was disappointed to say the least with the nation’s response to Ahern's decision to welcome two detainees into the country.

Every radio station I tuned in to had people complaining, begrudging these men their freedom.

Surely this move is a sign of maturity and progress from Government. Fair enough, security for the two men may cost a bit, but at least it’s money that can be accounted for.

The horrible fact is that there are serious human rights breaches in many parts of the world, and that these men may face death if returned to Uzbekistan. They are victims of American politics gone out of control and as such need to be protected and treated with respect - not begrudged and feared.

To hear that people are scared that they may be living in their neighbourhood disgusts me. They are victims, their names have been cleared, and as such don’t they deserve a second chance at life?

Maria Daly [email protected]


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