Call to reform ‘inhumane’ Direct Provision
Call to reform ‘inhumane’ Direct Provision


There have been new calls for the Dublin government to disband their “inhumane” Direct Provision centres as a report revealed the mental strain endured by those consigned to live in the refugee shelters.

Direct Provision is how the 26 County State minimally meets its international obligations with regards to asylum seekers, providing basic meals, very low quality accommodation and an allowance of less than three euro per day.

Thousands of people who have fled war-torn countries in the Middle East or Africa must cope with casual racism as they continue to wait in these centres, many for several years, while their applications are processed.

And those that manage to secure refugee status paint bleak pictures of their time in limbo: years with little support, dignity or sense of meaning.

Poor mental health, isolation and feelings of disempowerment are among the main challenges reported by many of those interviewed as part of new research for the Irish Refugee Council. They compared direct provision to a prison, with one saying: “It’s just like you’re under pressure - like, it’s just like an open jail, an open prison...

“You can go out but the way it is, it’s just like a prison, you know, because morning to evening, there’s a camera. Everything you have to beg.”

One person remembered regularly feeling infantilised: “They are giving the food, they are giving the Pampers, they are giving the baby food, they are giving everything... People decide your life for you. They decide when you eat, when you go out.”

Another said: “It’s just like wasting of life, wasting of years. You wake up in the morning. All you have to do is go for your breakfast. Go back to your room, sleep or watch TV. Come for your lunch. Same thing everyday.”

Galway City Council has recently begun a nationwide effort to encourage the government to close the shelters.

“There are farmers in parts of this country who keep heifers in better facilities than these people are living in,” said Fianna Fail’s Mike Crowe, who proposed a motion to disband the Direct Provision system.

The programme is the scandal of our generation, he said. “This will be our mini-Magdalen Laundries’ scandal when we look back in 10 or 20 years’ time at how these people are treated,”

The Direct Provision system was supposed to be a temporary accommodation but, he said, many are waiting eight or 10 years, during which time they are not allowed to work. They can’t fend for themselves, because they’re not allowed, and they’re relying on charity to survive. It is one room per family, and they are cramped.

“It is inhumane . . . it is no life for humans”.

Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal O Conchuir agreed that Galway’s Direct Provision establishments were bad, but he noted Limerick was worse. “It’s something like a World War 2 concentration camp . . . trying to live and rear children in those sort of conditions is unbelievable,” he said of the Limerick facility.

Speaking during a council debate, Mr Crowe pointed out the hypocrisy of lobbying the White House for changes to emigration for the undocumented Irish in America while at the same time ignoring the plight of asylum seekers living in squalor among us in Salthill and Eyre Square.

“I don’t care if you’re black, white or pink or what plane you got off, nobody should be living in those conditions,” he added.

The motion, which passed unanimously, is being circulated to other local authorities around the country so that they too would pass similar motions.

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