A local African community leader has spoken of his fears that local African-Irish people will be blamed if there is an Ebola outbreak in Ireland.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat, George Enyouzu says he fears a backlash from Irish people if the deadly virus breaches Ireland’s borders.
Originally from Nigeria, George has been living in Ireland for 13 years.
While Nigeria has had eight deaths, it has not been hit to the same extent as Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, by the deadly virus.
“Initially I didn’t take the news about Ebola too seriously, until the Irish government gave the travel advice saying non essential travel between the effected countries. That’s when I knew how desperate the situation was.
Mr Enyouzu had plans to visit his elderly mother in Nigeria, but ultimately decided against it, after it the scale of the outbreak became clear.
Mr Enyouzu ultimately lost the money spent on the ticket as KLM did not accept Ebola as a legitimate reason ‘not to travel’. He says other Nigerians have also decided not to travel.
“I think people realise that travelling would mean not only a threat to yourself or your family, but the Irish nation itself.
“Absolutely this is something that is worrying the African community in Dundalk.
“My greatest fear was that if I travelled to Nigeria, that I would be quarantined if I came back to Ireland.
“The problem each time someone comes from a tropical country, you have fever like symptoms from the extreme change to weather. It even happens to me as I have been here for 13 years. I have to battle to survive in a hot climate.
“Then if you returned to Ireland with a mild illness and you said that you had been to West Africa, there might be a panic.
“I feel that Irish people might be fearful of the African community if the virus spreads and there is a confirmed case in Ireland. I think people are going to be suspicous of every African.
“It could be hard to convince people that you are healthly. “
George says that often Irish people see an African and see them as all the same, no matter which area of the continent they are from.
“People don’t really care if you are different. They see Africa. Also the way Africa was seen when the colonists came. They think we are all tribes people!”
In a statment to the Dundalk Democrat, the HSE said they have no current plans to screen in airports and that plans are in place to deal with any case in Ireland.