Kenny accused of hypocrisy over immigration
Kenny accused of hypocrisy over immigration


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been urged to do more to help those coming to Ireland to escape global conflicts following his comments on immigration in the US last week, which received unprecedented international media attention.

Mr Kenny’s speech about the value of immigration in front of US president Donald Trump at a St Patrick’s Day event on Capitol Hill last Thursday made no reference to Mr Trump’s policies. However, it was interpreted by the US and European media as a veiled criticism of Mr Trump’s plans to ban immigration from certain Muslim countries and to build a wall along the Mexican border.

“Irish PM trolls Donald Trump on immigration right in front of him,” was how the Metro publication in London reported the speech.

However, under Ireland’s own system for refugees, immigrants coming to the country are kept in crowded hostels which are operated in the manner of open prisons. Food and shelter are provided, but rights such as the right to privacy, the right to prepare and cook food and the right to earn a wage are denied.

The ‘direct provision’ system has been labeled “inhuman and degrading” in a court case being taken against Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Human rights lawyers have asserted that the system is illegal under both the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, and other international rights conventions that the 26 County state has subscribed to.

The Dublin government’s own Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, described it as “institutionalised poverty”. The Irish Refugee Council has reported that young people living in direct provision centres are more prone to depression and suicide.

Tuesday was International Day Against Racism, and a number of groups marked the occasion by gathering at the gates of the Dublin parliament to back a Dail motion to bring about an end to the system.

The motion, initiated by People Before Profit TD Brid Smith in association with United Against Racism, has been signed by 36 TDs.

A statement from United Against Racism read: “Speaking with Donald Trump, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that ‘St Patrick is the patron saint of immigrants’.

“We remind the Taoiseach that the asylum seekers in Direct Provision are immigrants too and Ireland has been keeping them in extreme poverty and inhumane conditions for many years. It’s time for it to end.”

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