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Members of the Singh family giving out masks in 2020 Olivia Kelleher

Family who gave out free face masks during pandemic granted residency in Ireland

The Singh family, who live in direct provision in Cork, say that making the masks was about ‘giving back’ to a country they arrived in over four and a half years ago.

AN INDIAN FAMILY living in Direct Provision in Cork who donated over two thousand free cloth face masks to the public during the pandemic are celebrating after they received permission to remain in Ireland.

The Singh family, who live in the Kinsale Road accommodation centre in Cork, say that making the masks was about “giving back” to a country they arrived in over four and a half years ago. They also gave out masks for free in their accommodation centre.

Raminder Singh, his wife Harinder Kaur and their three children Sandeep (23) Gursewak (21) and Gurcharan (19) have settled well in Ireland since their arrival and are “so happy” with the news of their finally being granted residency. Over 3,000 people signed a petition pleading with the Government to allow the family to stay in Ireland.

The family were refused the right to live in Ireland in in January 2020 and lodged an appeal. They sought asylum on religious and political grounds.

The family never sought publicity for their altruism – it became public when a lady who received a free mask took to Twitter commending the Singh family for their efforts.

Raminder Singh says he is grateful to the Irish government and the people of this country for granting them asylum.

“I am very happy. We want to thank everybody who supported us.”

Raminder says the core belief of the Sikh religion is engaging in Seva. This is service which is performed without any expectation of result or award for performing it.

“We are very happy in Ireland. We like this country and Irish people. Irish people are very supportive. My Sikh religion is that if you can help, you help.”

Sandeep has completed training as a beautician firstly in St John’s College and then in the Cork Training Centre in Bishopstown.

Gurcharan plays cricket with Cork Harlequins and would like to play for Ireland. He is considered to be a promising young talent. Gursewak is a talented musician who plays with the Citadel band.

Raminder said members of the public often expressed confusion that they weren’t making money from the cloth masks they made at the centre.

“People say ‘why aren’t you making money?’ and I say ‘well in my religion we help people for free.’ My thinking is that we have to keep everyone safe.”

Roos Demol, CEO of Recruit Refugee Ireland (RRI) , says that the granting of residency to the family is “the best news in a long time.”

Meanwhile, in May of last year the generosity of the Singh family was rewarded after locals in Cork raised €1,600 in just four hours when an electric bike was stolen from them.

Olivia Kelleher
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