Asylum seekers and refugees are one of the most demonised and marginalised social groups in Europe. Ireland’s current agenda for dealing with refugees and asylum seekers is inadequate. The government of Ireland is aware of the inadequacy of response and has proposed to make a number of changes that will improve the standard of living for those who chose to apply for inclusion in Ireland. However, many of the issues that are discussed in the Core Policy Objective: Intercultural & Migration Issues have already been addressed in the set of directives, regulations, and guidance provided by the EU on the topic of immigration and refugee policy. Ireland has opted out of participating in several of these programs, choosing instead to establish its own policies of caring for the disenfranchised who seek refugee status. While change in legislation in Ireland is taking place, it is evolving slowly, and many of today‟s greatest issues are being addressed very cautiously. As a result, many of the humanitarian provisions adopted by the EU are just now being considered by Ireland. This project examines the need for a Comprehensive Refugee Protection and Asylum Seekers Policy in Ireland today.
The Irish Association of Social Workers is the national organisation of professional social workers in the Republic of Ireland. The IASW is also an active member of the International Federation of Social Workers.
Throughout the country social workers encounter asylum seekers on a daily basis in their work within hospitals, mental health teams, child protection & welfare services, disabilities services, primary care teams and other settings. Recently, the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) endorsed a submission to the Working Group on the Protection Process based on research conducted by Maeve Foreman (TCD) and Muireann Ní Raghallaigh (UCD). Some of the views of social workers can be read here [insert hyperlink to HRI blog by Foreman & Ní Raghallaigh]. In this blog the IASW summarises the submission’s suggestions for change to the DP system. (It should be noted that while many of the research respondents were of the view that direct provision should be abolished, the abolition of DP is outside of the terms of reference of the working group)
- Ensure that interagency and interdepartmental collaboration between state and non state actors occurs to enable the development of onsite services that could focus on prevention and family support.
- Employ a Principal Social Worker to work in RIA’s Child and Family Services Unit in order to order to further develop their support services in collaboration with existing agencies.
Sitting in my kitchen watching my toddler play with a saucepan, spoon and some dried pasta, I feel very privileged. Recently I visited a direct provision centre, one of a number throughout the country where people seeking asylum from persecution are placed by the state while awaiting a decision on their case. There are 1500 children living in these centres. They have no access to a kitchen – the heart of most Irish homes.
Children living in direct provision queue for the meals, along with their parents. They are served three meals a day in a canteen within the centre. Parents living in the centre I visited tell me that their children often can’t eat the food; it’s spicy everyday they say – too spicy for their young palettes. Bananas are given on a Thursday: if your child wants a banana on a Monday, they’ll just have to wait. Parents are provided with baby formula until the child is 1 year old, but when they turn 1, it is taken away – the parents have no choice in this. I ask if there are children’s meals or if any alternative is provided if the children can’t or won’t eat what is offered. I am told there is not. As a parent of two small children this seems like an impossibility to me. While my eldest has gotten better with age, I often have to resort to plans B, C, and D to ensure my incorrigibly stubborn toddler doesn’t starve. Continue reading “#DirectProvision15: Children in Direct Provision”
St Nicholas’s Cathedral, Galway,Ireland
6th January, 2014
One of a series of socially engaged ritual performances by Ceara Conway. Created through a year long process of engagement with Able Women, a group of women seeking asylum in Ireland.
This performance highlights aspects of ‘Able Women’s’ experiences of living within the Direct Provision system in Galway City through voice and lament.
This project was supported by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme , managed by Create.
(Film – Flying Knee Productions and Nora Duggan)
I have arrive and concluded the story
But am nervous to roll the scroll.
I will like to say is all over but we just began,
Loved to end it all but my mind is not at rest.
Emotions are dip but saturated with the love of continuity.
How do I phrase the sentence? How can I illustrate that am human.
My life unknown, born alive but live as the dead.
I had a faith which has fade, for life hard so I crack my heard to live.
Words are not far but I eat pictures to be free, because burned mouth has no laugher.
Tree may die but we may try,
For living is text when hands are tied.
Who can tell when it will all end or ever know if the dead feels a pain.
Most don’t care about what they don’t see.
Jennifer DeWan is Campaigns and Communications Manager in Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre.
Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre has long campaigned for the introduction of an independent complaints mechanism to provide oversight of the direct provision system. The current complaints system – outlined in the Reception and Integration Agency’s (RIA) House Rules and Procedures – has been widely discredited as dysfunctional because of its lack of impartiality.
This criticism has been recently validated in the judgment delivered by High Court Justice Mac Eochaidh in his decision in C.A. and T.A (14 November 2014), which deemed the complaints mechanism (along with other aspects of the House Rules) unlawful.
This decision is an extremely welcome development. It finally vindicates the views that many asylum seekers have continually expressed. Over the years, Nasc has heard many complaints from residents about conditions in direct provision. Most of these complaints are never officially made, as there is little faith amongst residents in the current complaints mechanism.
In our experience many asylum seekers are reluctant to complain about their treatment in direct provision, and this reluctance stems more often than not from a belief that they would be targeted by the management of the centre or RIA. Another reason we hear that residents do not complain is the fear that it may somehow negatively impact their protection application or result in some other form of punishment, such as a punitive transfer. Continue reading “#DirectProvision15: The need for an independent complaints mechanism”
|Human Rights in Ireland have been running a week long online event since Monday to mark the 15th year of Direct Provision in Ireland. Throughout the week, there have been new and retrospective contributions from a cross section of civil society, NGOs, supporters and legal professionals highlighting the issue of Direct Provision: 15 years of reports, research, newspaper articles, blogs, videos and quotes about the damage this system has caused and continues to cause.
Dr Liam Thornton, Lecturer in Law at UCD and c0-organiser of the #DirectProvision15 event said, “The 15th anniversary of Direct Provision should give us time for pause and reflection on the many years that asylum seekers have lost to this system. Given Irish societies past practices of institutionalisation and confinement of vulnerable groups, the fact that asylum seekers can spend many years in Direct Provision is not only tragic, but wrong.”
Liam went on to say, “Once again we find ourselves reiterating the call for an end to Direct Provision. It is a system that is controlling and demeaning by its very nature. The total denial of self-sufficiency, and the indignity foisted upon residents within enclosed institutional settings will become yet another shameful part of Irish history.”
Ellie, a current resident of Direct Provision said, “It is important for us to come together to mark this date. So many people, including children, are suffering under this system. We need hope, we need to know that the change that is so badly needed is on its way. That is why today we are sending a clear message to the Government and the Working Group: Stop the suffering. Stop the damage. Hopes have been raised, please do not let us down again.”
Tomorrow, Friday 10 April 2015 (the precise anniversary), asylum seekers and supporters will gather outside the Department of Justice at 1 pm for a moments silence for the years of limbo, the children growing up, and the lives lost in the Direct Provision system.
Caroline Reid, Communications Officer with the Irish Refugee Council and co-organiser of #DirectProvision15, 085 858 5510
Direct Provision: A Select Timeline (the third edition), by Liam Thornton
10 April event will include speakers who have experienced life inside Direct Provision, large colourful cards that spell out the word ‘Hope’ and flowers. A moments silence will then take place to mark this unfortunate anniversary.
Direct Provision was established as a short-term accommodation solution to house people seeking asylum in Ireland. 15 years on, people spend an average of four years in these centres, some have spent upwards of ten years.
A Protest Poem
Written by Donal O’Kelly in April 2000
Sleeping, eating, thinking,
Sleeping, eating, thinking,
Fifteen pounds a week – what else but
Sleeping, eating, thinking.
You’re in your rainy centre
Looking out the door
On your fourth cup of too-weak tea
At the people passing by
In cars and on buses and wheeling bikes
Mammies with buggies and kids with mits
And a lollipop lady dodging the splashes
From lorries in the pothole puddles …
And you think
How you would like
To have somewhere to go
And something busy to do
In the falling morning rain
But you’re consigned, asylum-seeker
You’re confined to
Sleeping, eating, thinking,
Sleeping, eating, thinking,
On fifteen pounds a week – what else but
Sleeping – eating – thinking.
Meanwhile, in Dublin Continue reading “#DirectProvision15: Direct Provision A Protest Poem”
15 years ago a system was signed off by some civil servants. This system now called direct provision was meant to accommodate those seeking asylum for a period of 6 months. Today the system prides itself for having been in place for 15 years. It has continued to exist with impunity and has denied asylum seekers the basic right of freedom to even choose what to eat and when to eat it. Parents cannot cook for their children and have been denied the right to work.
Direct provision is a moving target. There are no signs to end it; the government is talking of reforming it. Asylum rights campaigners are demanding for an end to direct provision. The million dollar question is who is direct provision meant to serve? Does it give value for money to the tax payer? Why did the government endorse a profit model to a public good? Should asylum seekers be treated any better? Continue reading “#DirectProvision15: Mathematical Dilemma about Direct Provision”
This video is from a group of Occupational Therapy students. Kerrie McGroarty writes: “As part of our college work myself and a group of other students created a video looking at the impact not being allowed to work has on asylum seekers.”