We still manage not to know

asylum-seekersMuch has been written recently about the forthcoming recommendations of the Working Group on Direct Provision made up of representatives of migrant-support NGOs, established ‘to report to Government on improvements to the protection process, including Direct Provision and supports to asylum seekers’. Media rumours relating to asylum seekers who have been in Direct Provision more than five years include the regularisation of 2,400 asylum seekers (Metro Eireann), the ‘fast tracking’ of 1,500 asylum seekers (the Irish Times) and asylum seekers doing their Leaving Certificate being allowed to pay the same fees as their ‘Irish’ counterparts and not as ‘foreign students’ (RTE).
The Direct Provision system, dubbed ‘inhumane by Minister of State at the Department of Justice Aoghan O’Riordán turns autonomous humans into the negatively valued category of ‘asylum seeker’. Like ‘managing not to know’ about the poor houses, Magdalene Laundries, mother and baby homes, industrial schools and psychiatric hospitals in which one in a hundred ‘Irish’ people were incarcerated for years, Irish society, despite the media reports, ‘’manages not to know’ about Direct Provision. In the Direct Provision centres – run by for-profit companies making millions on the backs of people seeking protection in Ireland – people are forced to share rooms with strangers, families are forced to live in one cramped room, unpalatable food is served at set time often leaving children hungry, and residents are subjected to disciplinary measures by centre managers and staff. Continue reading “We still manage not to know”

Launch of UNHCR report ‘Towards a new beginning: Refugee Integration in Ireland’ 3 March 2015, Mansion House, Dublin

Speakers at the launch were UNHCR Ireland director Sophie Magennis, Minister of State at the Dept of Justice Aoghán Ó Riordáin, report author Diana Gouveia, and two refugees, Mustafa Shirzi (Afghanistan) and Nadia Said (Somalia), the latter two expressing gratitude to Ireland for their successful integration. In the audience were mostly refugees (several Syrians commended for ‘creating a vibrant community’…), NGO interns, doctoral students, but very few activists.

The report (Towards a New Beginning: Refugee Integration in Ireland), based on interviews with 71 refugees, recommends ‘best practices’ in the areas of active citizenship, employment, housing, media participation, English language ‘training’, access to information. It recommends shorter stay in the direct provision system, but not its abolition or ending deportations.

The Minister said ‘no asylum seeker wants to be in the DP system’, stressing that the Working group aims to improve the system and that integration is ‘a complex process which requires time’. His general tone was congratulatory, particularly in his boast that Ireland does not have far right parties (it doesn’t need them, it has a government, says I), and his delight in the multiculturality of Ireland which was ‘so boring and monocultural’ during his youth. He highlighted the role of sport in promoting integration but said that integration is ‘about much more than antiracism’… Continue reading “Launch of UNHCR report ‘Towards a new beginning: Refugee Integration in Ireland’ 3 March 2015, Mansion House, Dublin”