Culture

John Lannon: Helping to Empower Refugees

John Lannon

Influential human rights activist John Lannon, CEO of Doras shares an insight into his busy and meaningful work helping migrants in Limerick.

Advocacy is something that comes easy to John Lannon; a hardworking and dedicated human rights activist, passionate about freedom and equal opportunities for all. The Roscommon-born man has resided in Limerick for over 30 years and worked as a lecturer and researcher at University of Limerick before taking up the position as CEO of Limerick migrant rights organisation Doras in 2020.

“Doras was set up in the year 2000 by people who came together in response to the first asylum seekers arriving in Limerick,” John explained. “They wanted to ensure that there was a welcome for them and that their basic needs were met.”

Since then, Doras has evolved into a lively, busy office right in the middle of Limerick city. John and the team at Doras work to promote inclusion of migrants through a number of different projects. “One of the main areas is immigration and international protection,” John said. “We provide support and information to individuals on all aspects of immigration and international protection – that’s a core part of what we do.”

The work extends far beyond just advocacy. Doras visits direct provision centres and engage in refugee resettlement through their community sponsorship programme, which allows for groups of people to come together and find a house to provide for a family coming from a refugee camp, oftentimes from Lebanon or Jordan. Another important project that John oversees is the migrant victims of crime programme. “We provide specialised support to migrant and refugee victims of crime like human trafficking, domestic abuse, and so on,” he explained.

John’s work as CEO doesn’t stop at supervising numerous projects – he takes part in media work, public speaking and meetings with officials and politicians all the way up to the Taoiseach.

With the recent increase in arson attacks on accommodation centres and lack of housing, John and his team continuously campaign for a better Ireland. “We see the real issues facing communities come back to housing and the depletion of services. We see that its grossly unfair that people who come here seeking protections are the ones most impacted by these failures. Now they are impacted by far-right organised activities around the country to make their life even more difficult.”

“There’s a lot of work were continuing to lobby the Government to do in that area of housing and accommodation.”

Doras have also been calling for the Government to provide pathways for people who need to escape from Gaza who have relatives with residency here in Ireland, in response to the outbreak of war in the region.

Whilst the work is challenging and time consuming, John remarked on how rewarding the job can be. “It’s always fulfilling when we are able to achieve something for an individual who wasn’t getting access to their entitlements or whose rights were being denied,” John said. “It’s even better when we’re able to bring about change that will ensure others won’t be in the same situation as that individual.”

John Lannon’s activism and dedication to promoting intercultural awareness and human rights is beyond admirable, and crucial to our ever-changing society in Ireland.

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