A Dublin independent musician who is also the match announcer at Saint Patrick's Athletic is raising money to supply laptops for those living in direct provision.
Gary Ó Nualláin's latest single is called 'Children of Ireland' and was filmed with the help of residents in Clondalkin direct provision centre. Gary quickly discovered that laptops were badly needed by many of the people in direct provision who are trying to complete college coursework. He is auctioning off several League of Ireland jerseys and has started a GoFundMe page to try and raise much needed money for the students' education.
The highly-anticipated single is being launched in the Cobblestone on Saturday. Gary told Dublin Live that he was horrified to see the living standards of those living in direct provision and wanted to highlight it.
He said: "The single is called 'Children of Ireland' and it's an anti-racism anthem. I remember I went to see Damien Dempsey locally here in Clondalkin. He had an anti-racism song. It was a really small, intimate venue and Damo did it as a charity gig.
"I just came home and wrote the song without any music. I wouldn't normally do that. The lyrics just kind of came out. I am very involved with League of Ireland football. I wanted to involve the club somehow. I decided to try and set up a game between some fans and some residents of the direct provision centre.
"I got in touch with Brian in the centre closest to me. He sorted out a team. I'm not allowed pay them legally so I asked Brian what the best way to compensate the group was. He said that some of the people that were playing in the match were doing college courses and it would be really helpful to get laptops sorted.
"The clubs gave me some signed jerseys to auction off. Shelbourne, St Pats and Shamrock Rovers all gave me a signed jersey each to raffle off to pay for the laptops. In the end we ended up being able to kit out 11 of the direct provision residents with all the football gear- boots, shorts, coats, footballs, bibs, all the kind of stuff they need to start playing themselves.
"Managed to get them six laptops as well so they are able to do their college coursework and Brian who helped me organise it is now a schoolboy referee. Two underage lads who played in the match are now onto schoolboy teams locally too. That side of it was really successful. I didn't want to be exploitative and just be like 'come down and be in my music video and see you later.'
"Private companies are paid a fortune from the state to house people while they figure out whether they can stay here or have to go home. You should obviously treat them like an Irish person while that process is going on."
Gary recently received much needed funding for his music but admitted that Covid-19 was a huge blow to musicians all over the country.
He said: "It's been tough. It's been very tough for a while. When Covid hit, I was back as a cast member on Fair City. I started that when I was still in school and I just recently reprised the role. I was a full-time musician as well. Between the two jobs, I was just about making a living. Then when Covid hit, it was gone. I couldn't get into the studio to finish the album.
"I got the Basic Income for Artist's Scheme and that means I can take a step back now. I don't have to be working 220-250 hours every month. It's just going to be a gamechanger."
Tickets for Gary's gig in the Cobblestone are available here.
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