Separated Children in Ireland: Call for Blog Contributions

Samantha Arnold is the Children’s and Young Persons’ Officer at the Irish Refugee Council.

The Irish Refugee Council has reached the 6 month mark of an Independent Advocacy Pilot which centers on supporting separated children in finding their own voice by matching children with advocates who act as mentors.  The objective of the project is to promote the young person’s integration into Irish society and his/her understanding of the asylum process.  The pilot project includes advocates in Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Cork and Galway who each act on behalf of one or two young people.

On 12 December 2012 the Irish Refugee Council will launch the midterm review of the Independent Advocacy Pilot and on the same day will partner with Human Right in Ireland to run a blog-carnival addressing issues relating to separated children in Ireland.  Young People and Advocates involved in the project will contribute as well.

To submit a blog, please send an intention to submit a blog with a brief synopsis of what you hope to cover to samantha@irishrefugeecouncil.ie as soon as possible.  The deadline for final submissions is 7 December 2012.

Separated Children in Ireland: Call for Blog Contributions

The Children's Referendum: The Oireachtas Debates

The debates that took place in the Dáil and Seanad (known collectively as the Oireachtas) on the wording of the children’s constitutional amendment reflect similar debates that have been occurring over recent weeks on the wording of the amendment that will go before the people (see here). There was no direct opposition to the amendment, but there had been some (failed) attempts to expand the scope of the amendment.

In introducing the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012, the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald stated:

The Bill I have brought to the House will allow for one of the most important referendums in the history of the State….The values it [the Constitution] espouses and rights it provides are so intrinsically connected with being a citizen of this nation that we rarely question from where those rights and values come. The only time the average person really needs to pay direct attention to the Constitution is when it is discovered to be lacking or when he or she needs to rely on it to protect his or her rights. In the case of the children of the State, it is lacking.

The focus in introducing the Amendment was the protection of those most in need of protection. Minister Fitzgerald herself notes that this amendment will generally only affect a very small number of children. The Taoiseach’s comments broadly reflect the Continue reading “The Children's Referendum: The Oireachtas Debates”

The Children's Referendum: The Oireachtas Debates

The Children's Referendum: Donnelly on the Referendum Process

Human Rights in Ireland welcomes guest contributor, Sonya Donnelly. Sonya is a practicing barrister who also lectures in Dublin Business School. She has spent the last year in Africa working as a project coordinator with Irish Rule of Law International on an access to justice project focusing on pre-trial detention in Malawian prisons.  She has written extensively on criminal justice issues and co-wrote a legal text for first year barristers, The Devil’s Handbook. In this post Sonya outlines the Referendum process as part of the Children’s Amendment Blog Carnival.

On Saturday, the 10th November 2012 you are being asked to vote in a referendum which concerns changes to the Constitution in respect of the rights of children.  On the page below, I will set out a short description of some of the key terms of relevance to the referendum process in order to give you a greater understanding of how this process will work.

What is the Constitution?

The Constitution is the fundamental legal document that sets out how Ireland should be governed. The Oireachtas cannot introduce laws in Ireland that are inconsistent with what is stated in the Constitution. Therefore it is sometimes necessary to change the Constitution and this is done by holding a referendum.

What is a referendum?

A referendum is a vote by the people of Ireland on a proposed amendment to the Constitution. A referendum gives the people the opportunity to express their opinion and vote for or against the proposed change. If a simple majority vote yes the amendment is approved and the appropriate words in the Constitution are removed and/or inserted. If a simple majority vote no then the Constitution remains unaffected.

What is the process for a referendum in Ireland?

In order to call a constitutional referendum, Continue reading “The Children's Referendum: Donnelly on the Referendum Process”

The Children's Referendum: Donnelly on the Referendum Process

Eoin Daly: National Belonging – The View From France

This is Eoin Daly’s second guest post for HRinI. You can read more about Eoin on the Guest Contributors’ page.

logoThe French Minister for Immigration and National Identity, Eric Besson, has launched a “great debate” on national identity, continuing an important theme of the Sarkozy presidency. Discussions will take place at town hall-style meetings, open to the public, over the coming months, with the views expressed to be collated in a subsequent report. It has aroused opposition and scepticism in at least a section of the political and intellectual Left, which sees it, with some justification, as a cynical move to appropriate the anti-immigration terrain of the National Front. In this blog post, I briefly consider the scope and likely tenor of the “great debate” in the light of the related traditions of republicanism and universalism in France’s public culture and history of ideas. In particular, I wish to touch upon the question of whether the troubling conflation of the debate on national identity with the immigration question is such as to jeopardise the possibility, for universalist republicanism, of openness to a plurality of ways of life, and of securing the social and political bond upon exclusively political ideals rather than pre-political commonalities.

Continue reading “Eoin Daly: National Belonging – The View From France”

Eoin Daly: National Belonging – The View From France

Darren O'Donovan: Travellers and the Irish Politics of Belonging

This post is contributed by Dr. Darren O’Donovan. You can read about Darren on our Guest Contributors page.

logoIn this post I want to underline the significance of past and present state policy towards the Travelling Community in understanding how Ireland, like all countries around the world, has silenced and rendered invisible of those who did not belong to, and could not be accommodated within, the idealised story of the Irish nation and majority cultural identity. The exclusion of the experiences of the Travelling Community from the Migration Nation Report as well as recent regressive state policies, underline that to this day, Travellers are regarded as residual to human rights protections relating to cultural rights and equality, as well as to the recent diversity debates in multicultural Ireland.

The watershed moment for Travellers rights was the Task Force Report on the Travelling Community 1995, which called for the ‘redefinition of the Traveller situation in terms of cultural rights as opposed to simply being a poverty issue’. The key to securing this recognition, and protecting it to this day, is an appreciation of the historical exclusion and the distinct identity of Travellers. This battle for history, like those across Europe, must not be influenced by present day derogatory attitudes, but by cogent documented research. The key document, which has long lain obscure and underappreciated, is the Report of the Commission on Itinerancy 1963. This offers the strongest evidence of deeply rooted stereotypical representations and silencing of Travellers. For instance, alongside assertions that Traveller women were unable to undertake housework and that Traveller men suffered from alcoholism and laziness, the Commission also noted that, while it had investigated the possibility of placing the majority of Traveller children within industrial schools, this would present too much of a burden upon the taxpayer. In order to preserve the life-story of the Irish nation, its ideal of Gaelic social communalism and attachment to land, Travellers were not to be understood as possessing cultural traditions, but were rather simply an impoverished group who were forced into occupying caravans by their own economic backwardness. Travellers threaten to rupture the majority’s preferred history, and it requires a conscious identity project to explain away their origins and exclusion.

Continue reading “Darren O'Donovan: Travellers and the Irish Politics of Belonging”

Darren O'Donovan: Travellers and the Irish Politics of Belonging

Ronit Lentin: Anti Racism and Lived Experience

logoThis post is a ‘donation’ from Ronit Lentin’s blog ‘Free Radical’. It was first published there on November 1.  You can read more about Ronit on the ‘Guest Contributors’ page.

Since the onset of the recession and the demise of the NCCRI and the cut in the budget of the Equality Authority and the Irish Commission on Human Rights, no one has been speaking much about racism. Most Irish people feel they have other priorities, as they try to make ends meet, get a bank loan, or secure their pensions.

Racism, however, has not disappeared. Migrants, Travellers and members of other ethnic minorities are reporting a marked increase in racist incidents, though, apart from CSO statistics on ‘racially motivated crimes’ (which don’t differentiate the experiences of Travellers, migrants or other racialised groups) there is little hard evidence.

It was therefore encouraging that the Equality Authority and the European Network against Racism organised a discussion forum on ‘Tackling racism and the impact of racist stereotypes’. The event, hosting academics, members of NGOs, some of whom were themselves migrants, Travellers and members of minorities, aimed to identify ‘best practices and tools to address racism including racism arising from stereotypes’.

However yet again, none of the speakers was a member of a migrant or minority group. The keynote speaker was Anastasia Crickley, a long time anti-racist campaigner for Traveller and minority rights, and chairperson of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (formerly the EU Monitoring Centre against Racism, Antisemitism and Xenophobia). She listed four reasons for addressing racism: charity, cohesion, economics and ethics, but she did not speak about the politics of antiracism, or about the role of the state in perpetrating racism. In the Equality Authority’s background document, ‘Living Together: European Citizenship against Racism and Xenophobia’ the best practices listed for Ireland mostly focused on cultural diversity, not antiracism.

Twelve years after the European Year Against Racism, racism is still spoken about in terms of cultural diversity. The EA’s event gave no space to the lived experiences or analysis of racism by the racialised.

The famous anti colonial fighter Frantz Fanon emphasised the lived experience of the black man. Yet  contemporary academic preoccupation with ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ as the sole positions of the struggle of racialised people leads to the conflation of ‘identity politics’ with anti-racism and to the depoliticisation of the anti-racist struggle. However, one of the most important questions asked in relation to antiracism is ‘who speaks for whom, who says what and from where?’ Antiracism can be either generalised – intending to raise awareness among the population and reach a post-racial ‘racelessness’, or colour blindness. Or it can be self-representational, where the lived experience of the racialised informs the struggle. Generalist antiracism is anchored in universal values such as democracy, human rights, equality and tolerance; it reduces the importance of state racism and emphasises individual (or institutional) prejudice.  In contrast, self organising antiracism stresses the role of the state, which focuses on notions of the race idea rooted in the political structure. The lived experience of the protagonists informs the struggle and names the state as the main culprit rather than stress individual prejudice, a way of depoliticising racism and antiracism.

Not privileging the experiences of the racialised means nothing much has changed. Antiracism in Ireland continues to be solidaristic, performed by well meaning white, settled, Christian Irish people, whose ‘best practices’ documents continue in the tradition of soft interculturalism and cultural diversity, while racism goes on.

Ronit Lentin: Anti Racism and Lived Experience

Deirdre Duffy: Legitimate Victims, Illegitimate Agents

logoThis is our second guest post from Deirdre Duffy. You can read about Deirdre on our Guest Contributors page.

According to the author Stanley Cohen (1997), no group has been as systematically and consciously demonised as refugees and asylum seekers. In his analyses of the creation of moral panics Cohen argues that at no point have this group been portrayed – accurately or otherwise – as anything other than a threat to society as a whole. Their status as people in need of refuge and sanctuary has been constantly questioned. It is little wonder then that advocates of refugee and asylum seekers constantly try to underline this group’s victimhood. Asylum seekers are not, after all, seeking asylum without good reason. However, in the long term, this promotion of the victimhood of refugees and asylum seekers places them in an extremely precarious position, one felt by many vulnerable groups, where their villainy is only negated by their ability to be victims. While this may not seem to be problematic, it is quite disempowering and restrictive of their ability to move from being asylum seekers to ordinary members of society by themselves. Legitimacy means powerlessness.

Continue reading “Deirdre Duffy: Legitimate Victims, Illegitimate Agents”

Deirdre Duffy: Legitimate Victims, Illegitimate Agents

Liam Thornton: The Culture of Control and Reception Conditions for Asylum Seekers in Ireland

logoThis post is contributed by our regular member Liam Thornton. You can read about Liam on our Contributors page.

A central concern of the welfare state within post-modern welfare debates is the use of discipline, whereby the democratic-welfare-capitalist society is the disciplinary or controlling society. Asylum seekers can be viewed as a threat to the functioning of the welfare state. Welfare state regimes, when they were being formulated, were addressed to citizens. However, the welfare state only ever provided a modicum of support to those relying on it. The welfare state can, in certain situations, be considered a penal institution, whose abstract penality is all the more pervasive when those outside the contours of entitlement seek to rely on basic state supports. Geddes argues that “the bogus myth of welfare scrounging” has polluted contemporary immigration and protection debates.

The welfare state has become a forum for exclusion of asylum seekers from mainstream welfare provision (For information on current reception regimes for asylum seekers in Ireland, see here). Current literature on reception conditions for asylum seekers in Ireland fails to properly account for its punitive nature. The current reception conditions in place developed against a background of heightened concern about growing number of asylum seekers and other persons seeking protection arriving in Ireland (see here). Continue reading “Liam Thornton: The Culture of Control and Reception Conditions for Asylum Seekers in Ireland”

Liam Thornton: The Culture of Control and Reception Conditions for Asylum Seekers in Ireland

FLAC: Social Welfare and the Protection Regime

This is a contribution from Saoirse Brady, FLAC’s Policy & Campaigns Officer.

logoAsylum seekers and other persons seeking protection often appear to be excluded from Irish society.  In fact, the Irish government has taken a number of steps to ensure that persons within the asylum and humanitarian leave to remain process cannot easily integrate into Irish society.

By introducing the policies of direct provision and dispersal, the government has added to this sense of exclusion for individuals seeking asylum or another form of protection.  “Direct provision” is the scheme whereby asylum seekers and people seeking other forms of protection are given accommodation on a full-board basis with all their basic needs apparently provided for directly.  Direct provision residents receive a weekly payment of 19.10 for an adult and 9.60 for a child, unchanged since its introduction in 2001.  The dispersal scheme ensures that individuals who apply for asylum are dispatched to different parts of the country.  Often they are removed from residential areas or big towns and sent to remote or rural locations.  Transport is limited and given their meagre allowance, it is often difficult for them to leave their accommodation centres to socialise or interact with other members of Irish society.  This obviously has implications for the social inclusion of direct provision residents.  In its concluding observations to Ireland’s first national report, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted it “is concerned at the possible implications of the policy of dispersal of and direct provision for asylum-seekers” under article 3, which prohibits discrimination.

Furthermore, the integration of asylum seekers and other direct provision residents does not fall within the remit of the Office of the Minister for Integration, set up in 2007.

Continue reading “FLAC: Social Welfare and the Protection Regime”

FLAC: Social Welfare and the Protection Regime

Elaine Dewhurst: Irregular Migration in Ireland

This post is contributed by Dr. Elaine Dewhurst. You can read more about Elaine on our Guest Contributors’ Page.

logoThey clean your hotel room, serve you in restaurants, pick your vegetables, clean your office, build your houses, mind your children and they may even entertain you. While many of these people are regular workers, there is a real possibility that these workers are, in fact, irregular migrant workers (sometimes referred to as “illegal” or “undocumented” workers). Due to their status as “illegal”, they strive to conceal their identities and their lives in case they are subject to deportation. But how do migrant workers become irregular and what is their status in Irish employment law?
How do migrant workers become irregular? The majority of migrant workers working in Ireland have the requisite permission to work here either because they are from a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country and thus benefit from free movement or because they have been given specific permission by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (such as an employment permit) to work in Ireland. However, there are some migrant workers in Ireland who do not have permission to work in Ireland and they are referred to as irregular migrant workers (Immigration Act 2004, s. 5(2) and Employment Permits Act 2003 (Ireland), s. 2(2) as amended Employment Permits Act 2006 ).

Continue reading “Elaine Dewhurst: Irregular Migration in Ireland”

Elaine Dewhurst: Irregular Migration in Ireland