Friday, May 17, 2013

“We Are Where We Are” track-by-track guide-- 9. The Eglinton Hotel

I used to go to indie discos in the Eglinton Hotel when it housed a nightclub in the 1990s. The place later became a hostel for asylum-seekers, who live under a “direct provision” regime, stuck for years, often, before getting a decision on their cases. After I had moved away, I read a news feature in the Irish Times about the people living there and how hard life was for them there. Asylum-seekers in Ireland are not allowed to work and are given food and board (usually totally inadequate and unsuitable) and a cash allowance that is so small, there is little possibility to do ordinary things like take your kids to the cinema or buy them stuff they need for school. The residents of the Eglinton Hotel had been treated really badly and were afraid to complain because of their asylum cases. And all of this goes on right in the midst of where I grew up, and I don't think people really know or pay attention. It's that that got me thinking about the song. I think it is pretty risky, morally, for someone like me to take on the perspective of an African asylum-seeker in a song. The only reason I did so was that I had their first-person accounts from the newspaper story and the song more or less just reports some of the things they said in it. I guess I think of those lines of the song as simply being an invitation to look up that story and listen to the people who live there. Still, I sometimes consider deleting it from the album.

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