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We Interrupt Our Regularly Programed Newsletter
My last post was the one you've been waiting for, this post is the one I've been dreading.
How could I possibly write about meatloaf, the recipe I promised to deliver in this week’s post? How could I test any recipes, when I have lost my appetite so completely, following back to back massacres at the hands of 18 year-old boys, dressed in tactical gear, brandishing semi-automatic weapons of mass destruction?
Forgive me, but I can think of nothing else, therefore I can write about nothing else.
I wanted to wait. I was hoping to build more trust between us, maybe tell a few more uplifting stories before I revealed the true reason Ari and I moved to Ireland. I didn’t want you to think I was crazy or a sensationalist.
While I did move to Ireland to pursue my writing career, that is only half of the story. I’ve been afraid, even embarrassed to tell people, but I believe now more people may understand. I have applied for International Protection here in Ireland, because I have the audacity to want my son to grow up safe and happy, without the constant fear and growing threat of random gun violence.
The events that unfolded in the last two weeks are nothing new. I know, because I follow every mass shooting that happens in the United States carefully, collecting and documenting the data, because my future depends on it.
Suddenly, it is as if the whole world has finally taken notice, and while I take no pleasure in the fact, this certainly helps my case, which I will share with you now.
After submitting the following statement, I was given a preliminary interview and a criminal background check was conducted. Ari and I were then granted temporary residency, while awaiting a second and more personal interview.
My Asylum Statement
Submitted the 3rd of November 2020
I am an American citizen seeking asylum in Ireland. It seems just yesterday, I was writing letters of support for friends and co-workers with dreams of becoming naturalized citizens of the USA. I had hoped I was overreacting when I fled America in July with my young son. In my mind, the bridge to Ireland was one I wanted to cross for years, but, all of the sudden, that bridge was on fire. I left with all that I could carry, leaving behind a house, a car and 49 years-worth of living, and I am utterly terrified to return.
My worst fears are now being confirmed by top journalists and all major newspapers. Most recently, Irish Central’s Cahir O’Doherty reported that “America is on the verge of revolutionary racial, political and economic unrest”. He referred to the situation as a “powder Keg,” rightfully so, considering gun sales in the US are 85% higher than the last spike preceding the 2016 election when many American’s feared the 2nd Amendment was in peril.
He continued, “This is something quite different. People are arming themselves with as much fire power as they can afford. Americans have always been divided on issues involving politics, race, immigration and religion, but never has it gotten so dire and deadly. Each side believes that the other side is out to destroy them, and this deep belief makes America ripe for civil war.”
Just as, you do not need to wait till a diver’s leg is chomped off to pull him out of shark infested waters, I hope and pray that you will not hesitate to offer safe haven to me and my son.
This journey began in 2017, when my son who was 3 at the time, was in lockdown at his daycare fearing a hostage situation. A live shooter was in the area, who had disappeared after a road rage incident where he fired several shots at other drivers before fleeing on foot. I was terrified for my son’s safety and I was powerless to do anything to help him.
With the help of a helicopter and a heat seeking drone, the suspect was taken into custody just a few blocks from the daycare, after a brief shootout with police. When I was allowed to pick up my son, the children were sitting on the floor of a center hall, lined with lockers. Teachers assured me that the younger children were not aware of the situation, but I could see fear on their faces and I could hear older students talking about it.
The following Sunday as I guided my son into our church, he whispered, “Mom, we can’t sit by the windows, there’s a live shooter out there”. It was during that mass that my prayers became more serious, asking God to protect us from the random gun violence in America. Soon after, I started seriously considering moving to Ireland.
In three short years, Ireland has gone from being an ideal home for us, to a vital refuge. Gone are the days when all you had to fear was violent crime, theft or mass shootings at schools, places of worship and entertainment venues. Things have gotten so much worse. In the past year, my 6-year-old boy has witnessed atrocities that no child should know.
He watched helpless as his mother fought to save her restaurant and home from intruders and looters as the Covid-19 lockdown left our downtown neighborhood abandoned but for desperate homeless men. He saw widespread police brutality and unwarranted death of unarmed black men and women with no consequences to their killers. He has seen the rise of white supremacy, emboldened by a president who equates racism with patriotism. He has seen self-appointed militia men brandishing semi-automatic machine guns, spewing hate speech in front of government buildings and monuments. He has seen peaceful demonstrations end in violence, even death. He has seen our beautiful city, a city we loved, who’s streets and bridges we know like the back of our hand, set on fire and our shops looted and destroyed.
On an early evening bike ride in July, my little boy saw his mother attacked and nearly thrown into traffic. I was body slammed twice by a large white male, and no one stopped to help. I called 911 when we were a safe distance away. We waited, shaking, scared and angry, but the police never came.
The next day the news came that 500 emergency calls went uninvestigated because the police were protesting the “Defund the Police” movement. That was the moment that I realized that I cannot protect us, nor can the police, nor can the government. That was the moment I decided that our move to Ireland must be a permanent one, if there is to be any hope of my son growing up free from persecution and gun violence, random or otherwise.
Because of Covid and the back log of applicants seeking International Protection from countries like Syria, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq, it was just over a year until our second interview. While I did not ever expect to be granted asylum, I hoped to obtain Permission to Remain which can be granted based on Humanitarian considerations.
In preparation of my second interview I wrote this:
Submitted the 17th of December 2021
In the one and a half years we have been here in Ireland, a crushing weight has been lifted. The stress, fear and worry we felt in America has been replaced with joy and a real sense of peace. The races, religions and people that my son was taught to fear are now some of his closest friends. Ari is allowed his innocence once again, there are no safety drills, metal detectors and armed guards to remind him daily, of how violent and deadly things can become in an instant.
We can attend school and church without discussing our emergency exit plan or choosing a meet up area in case we are separated. I feel we are truly recovered from the post- traumatic stress we were under as we struggled to protect ourselves and our restaurant when Covid hit and from watching our city destroyed, looted and burned during the George Floyd riots.
My son misses his cousins terribly, but does not want to go back to the United States. Any time he hears about another school shooting, he clings to me. He hugs me tightly and says “Thank you mommy for bringing me to Ireland.” My son used to have terrible dreams in which I’d be killed, or his friends would shoot him with a gun.
I adore that he can just be a kid here in Ireland. He plays Hurling and Football, and he takes Golf lessons and Tae Kwon Do. He has so many friends and is learning so much about other cultures, customs and religions. He is learning what is truly important in life, friendship, a sense of community and doing your part.
I intended to write my memoir, the story of becoming a chef and opening my restaurant, but I now feel a higher calling. I feel that I need to write about the gun violence in America and the fear, hatred and racism that fuels it, as a cautionary tale to those that still idolize America.
Guns were ever present in my life. I carried a gun, went to shooting ranges, learned how to draw it from a holster quickly, not because I wanted to, but because my safety, the safety of my son and all of my employees depended on it. You really don’t know the extent of the damage to your mind and soul, until you don’t see them at all. Then you kind of feel like skipping gleefully when you’re out and about!
I’m not oblivious. I know crime can happen anywhere. But, nowhere else in the world, are parents buying their troubled 15-year-old a semi-automatic hand gun and leaving it accessible to him and ignoring the concerns of his teachers and letting him take the lives of his classmates.
I will do whatever it takes to raise my son legally here in Ireland. I have bought a house and I hope to contribute whatever I have to give, be it writing or cooking to my community. I dream of Ari’s children growing up here too, and their children as well. Life has more meaning here, the connections to each other and to the environment are deeper and richer and there is laughter everywhere and my God, I live to laugh!
Thank You for Your Consideration,
Bridget K. McGinty
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My second interview was a total disaster. It was scheduled one week before Christmas, the last Friday of business for the year. My interviewer was in Dublin, I was in the Cork office and we communicated via Skype. He seemed disheveled and apologized that he wasn’t more prepared, saying he was flying out the next morning, to Germany, where his family settled after leaving Pakistan.
There was a power outage in the building I was in, and just when we got back on line, there was a fire drill in the Dublin office and my interviewer had to leave the building for 15 minutes or so. Everything became rushed after those interruptions. The interviewer seemed to want to discuss how I benefitted from being white in America more than anything. Then, the interview seemed to end abruptly and before I felt like I had been given an opportunity to make my case.
I was pressured to sign the 15 page report, documenting the questions I was asked and the answers I gave. As I had suspected during the interview, my answers were not written correctly or they were incomplete. I brought this to the attention of my interviewer, someone on the Cork team asked him, “Haven’t you reviewed all of her answers with her?”
To which he replied, “What time is that train Peter?”
“20 minutes.” he said nervously.
The team in Cork had coats on and kept hovering over me, shaking their keys even, as I desperately tried to make amendments to my answers. They had a train to catch, and a holiday party to attend at a pub back in Dublin.
After the second interview, the International Protection Office makes a recommendation to the Ministerial Decision Unit, who then decide either to grant permission to remain or to begin removal proceedings.
I received notice of the recommendation on the 15th of April 2022, that we should be given neither a refugee declaration nor a subsidiary protection declaration. We were however, given the right to appeal and we have begun the process. From the date of the decision, till now, there have been 6 mass shootings in just over one month, leaving 37 people, mostly children dead, and 98 injured.
This is an excerpt from my letter submitted to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal
6/7 Hanover Street East
Submitted the 3rd of May 2022
(I thought it best to not reveal the interviewer’s name, and I condensed the letter to contain only what I thought was necessary as it relates to gun violence in America.)
I seek to appeal the recommendation of my case, as I feel strongly that I have been unfairly discriminated against and falsely represented as someone who seeks to corrupt the integrity of the International Protection Act of 2015, by interviewer, Xxxxxx X. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.
While Mr. X’s assessment pointed to my “white privilege,” as to my motivation, in seeking International Protection, it is instead, my fear of having my son or myself gunned down in a school, place of worship, restaurant, theater, concert hall, workplace, or in any other place you would carry on normal everyday activities, that may become a scene of terror and carnage. And by the desire to escape the horrors we endured and the injustices we witnessed prior to leaving the United States that caused my son and me severe anxiety and depression.
I understand that, by seeking protection, I am humbly and respectfully, asking the Internal Protection Appeals Tribunal to consider broadening the scope of protection to include those who are targeted at random. While this is a new phenomenon and the majority of instances occur within the United States, it is nonetheless traumatizing in its senselessness and just as deadly and terrifying as being persecuted for your identity or beliefs.
Part 6 (B): Additional Documentation to be considered in your appeal.
[6B.1] Document 1: My Asylum Statement underscoring my firm belief that my 8 year old son and I fear being shot and killed if we are returned to the United States of America.
[6B.2] Document 2: Page 14 Report pursuant to Section 35 (12). Section 7: Closing Questions.
I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to sign this document, with two women standing over me, with coats on and bags, shaking keys and expressing a need to catch a train. One of the women began shouting to the interviewer (who was in Dublin and conducted this interview in Cork via Skype) that I was making amendments, which stopped me from saying more.
[6B.3] Document 3: Pages 10-12 Report Pursuant to Section 35 (12) of The International Protection Act 2015. Preceding Interviewers Recommendations, where he speaks to my “White Privilege.” It should be noted that the interviewer (who is not white), shared his surprise that I received a second interview and a black male applying for International Protection, also from America, did not.
[6B.4] Document 4: An 8 Page Excerpt from my Journal, written the day of my interview, that shows the amount of pressure and circumstances that I feel compromised the integrity of the interview. I can submit the entire journal if necessary.
[6B.5] Document 5: The Washington Post article “More than 292,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.” I had hoped to submit Wikipedia’s “List of School Shootings in the United States,” but it would have taken 127 sheets of paper to submit.
[6B.6] Document 6: Wikipedia “Mass Shootings in the United States.”
[6B.7] Document 7: IrishCentral “America is on the verge of revolutionary racial, political, and economic unrest.” Cahir O’Doherty
Thank You for Your Consideration,
Bridget K. McGinty
So as our live’s hang in the balance and we wait for the final decision in our case, I am learning everything I can from the people of Ireland about joy and happiness! It’s easy to see what is all around you, when you’re not worried about what is lurking behind you, and the first thing I noticed here in Midleton, were well-adjusted kids.
Children are the Main Attraction here, not the side show. They are addressed first when adults run into each other on the street or at school, which has taken me a while to get in the habit of doing it myself. Compliments are given instantly and enthusiastically, everything from what a fab t-shirt they have on, or what a cool bike or scooter, to what a good boy or girl they’ve been and how much they’ve grown.
Children are being built up constantly, everywhere they go, and they are welcome in restaurants, hotels and pubs (well, pubs till 8 or 9pm at the latest!) Often, you will see three generations of mostly males at the pubs for big Rugby, Hurling or Football matches. There is no shortage of coaches for sports and more often than not, parents show up at training and matches, and they watch and cheer for all the lads.
When a child misses a goal, you’ll hear coaches say, “Awe, bad luck, that’s all!” And when they score or do the slightest good, you’ll hear, “Well done!” followed by their name! A little boy slipped and fell at the playground once, and before he could cry, his dad ran to him, lifted him up shielding him, saying “Who shot Ye? Well…Who was it?” causing the child to laugh and laugh!
On May 15th, following a week that included rallies and protests over abortion rights and ended with a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, I wrote this on my Facebook page:
“Is maybe now a good time to ask America to start putting as much energy, care, love and concern into the children who have already been born? Maybe then we could have more joyful contributors and less hate-filled mass murderers.”
It’s a start, anyway.
Now that I have come clean about my situation here in Ireland, I will be including updates and insights in future newsletters. I will return next Friday with the Story of my greatest influence, my Great Aunt Etta Mahoney and that meatloaf recipe I promised, PLUS FREE GIFTS for my paid subscribers!
Thank You So Much For Being Here My Friend!