Vale Father Bob: refugee supporter
Father Bob Maguire was an advocate for the poor, the homeless and those who were marginalised by society.
He was also a fierce advocate for refugee rights.
Many will have seen him at the Park Hotel/Prison last year at age 87, when he entered the cage in solidarity with the men held in the Park.
Again last year, Father Bob accepted RAC’s invitation to speak at the MITA detention centre against the incarceration of refugees and the 501s. (See photo.)
Father Bob’s connection and advocacy with RAC dates back to 2017.
On 2 September 2017, RAC called an action outside State Parliament under the slogan, LET THEM STAY-MAKE THEM WELCOME-BRING THEM HERE.
The speaking list at the event was: Aran Mylvaganam – Tamil refugee; Andrew Giles – then shadow Immigration Minister; Dr Helen Driscoll – trauma psychiatrist; Shawfikul Islam – Rohingyan refugee; and a late inclusion, Father Bob.
A message was left by Father Bob’s assistant that he couldn’t speak at the protest because he had two weddings to perform on that day.
I called back to thank the assistant for getting back to me, but to my surprise Father Bob picked up the phone, we had a long chat and he asked lots of questions about RAC.
At the end of our chat he said he would come and speak at the protest before the weddings, but warned he would need to make a quick getaway to make it on time for the weddings.
There was a huge police presence at the protest, nothing out of the ordinary, but what was extraordinary was that l had three policemen come up to me wanting to find out whether it was true that Father Bob was going to speak. It appeared they were fans.
Needless to say, the police on the day were quite friendly.
Thank you for you love and solidarity, Father Bob. Vale.
Helen Panopoulos, on behalf of RAC