In June 2000, Nasc opened its doors for the first time. The headquarters, located at St. Marie’s of the Isle, Bishops Street, Cork quickly established itself as an important focal point in the lives of migrants seeking independent and trustworthy advice. The idea behind Nasc was born out of the realisation that essential services and assistance needs of migrants were being under-delivered by the government. The response to this saw a grassroots movement develop in Cork during the late 1990’s involving a loose coalition of organisations, academics, religious orders as well as members of both the Irish and immigrant communities.
Piaras Mac Einrí of the Migration Studies Unit at University College Cork; Fr Fachtna O’Driscoll of the Society of African Missions (SMA) and Brendan Hennessey, who later became Nasc’s first employee and full time Coordinator, identified the need for a permanent organisation to continue the provision of these services and founded Nasc in 2000.
In order to remain fully independent of the State, Nasc, as was the case from the beginning, continues to operate entirely through donations from philanthropic individuals and organisations. The financial contribution and use of a building by the Sisters of Mercy in Spring 2000 allowed Nasc to establish a much-needed presence in Cork. Further support followed from the SMA Fathers and a number of other sources in the months and years that followed.
The focus of Nasc’s work in those early days on Bishops Street revolved around community groups such as the Women’s Group, the Speakers Panel, the Country of Origin Project, the Policy and Campaigning Group, and the Social and Cultural Group. As well as offering a framework for local integration, the community groups and Nasc encouraged the immigrant community to find its voice through activism. During the first 3 years Nasc was catering for an estimated 120 clients a month on a one-to-one basis as well as beginning to advocate at the national level for improved asylum and integration policies.
In 2005 Nasc moved to Enterprise House on Mary Street, Cork, thanks to the support of the One Foundation. This second phase in Nasc’s history began with a number of creative projects involving members of the migrant community in Cork: A Safe Harbour? contained poems and reflections written by Cork-based migrants on their experiences of being forced from their homeland and their search for a new life in Ireland; a documentary entitled Who are we Now? focused on the lives of women in direct provision accommodation; and a play called As a Matter of Culture.
In 2007, thanks to funding from Atlantic Philanthropies and the One Foundation, Nasc introduced its personal advocacy service offering legal advice to those unable to afford access to the legal system. The Legal Information Service quickly became the core activity at Nasc, offering an insight into the issues affecting the migrant community in Cork, as well as providing assistance in areas such as family reunification, citizenship, domestic violence and discrimination.
Nasc left its Mary Street premises and moved to its current location at Ferry Lane in 2013. Through all the changes in personnel and locations Nasc has managed to remain an important resource for the migrant community in Cork. The scope of Nasc’s activities have expanded greatly since the organisation’s beginnings. While continuing to primarily protect and promote the human rights of migrants, Nasc now campaigns on behalf of victims of hate crimes, domestic violence, trafficking as well as the rights of the Roma community.
For a more detailed description of Nasc’s early years, visit our Archive files here.