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Direct Provision System: We don't need a shocked minister and another report. We need solutions!

Minister Fitzgerald should be kinder to herself. There is really no need for her to suffer the level of 'shock' she is experiencing at the moment due to 'reports of direct provision prostitution'. To remind her, we shall repeat the call: Don't be shocked, don't ask for another report. Just address the urgent and undeniable issue of Direct Provision System.

The serious issues of the Direct Provision System are long known to the government ministers. Throughout the past 10 years, numerous reports have been published by different sources that clearly identify the Direct Provision as an inhumane process with asylum seekers in this system suffering from many very serious problems. We have seen increased numbers of news reports in the media that show the problems the asylum seekers in direct provision centres are facing. The whole asylum process in Ireland and especially the Direct Provision System is exposed enough and it needs immediate action by the government to get rid of this system. There is only one word that can sum up the conditions of asylum seekers in Direct Provision System: Horror!

The Irish state has not dealt with the Direct Provision System and the issues raised were mostly ignored by subsequent governments. When looking at the overall asylum process, one can easily see how and why the Direct Provision System is left untouched and how it serves as a tool to the overall racist, undemocratic, non-transparent but more importantly inhumane asylum process in this country.

The data on from December 2013, Reception and Integration Agency shows that

· There are 4,360 asylum seekers in Direct Provision System (as of December 2013).
· Over 86% of asylum seekers have been in Direct Provision System for 12 months or longer
· 15.4% of all individuals in direct provision have been there for over 7 years.
· 43.1% of individuals in direct provision have been condemned to direct provision for over 5 years.
· 38.2% (1,666) of all those in direct provision centres are children.

Lets go back to early 2014.

“With such a large number of children present in direct provision centres and for increasingly longer periods of time, [then] the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD has stated child protection in direct provision is a matter for her colleague, Minister for Justice, Mr Alan Shatter TD. The fact that direct provision violates the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of children forced to live, grow up, sleep, play and eat in a communal setting within direct provision seems to be of little concern to the Minister.” (1)

This was early in early 2014 and Minister Fitzgerald was not ‘shocked’ by the issues children are facing in direct provision. A few months later she got the job that she held responsible for looking after the children of asylum seekers.

The Minister for Justice, Mary Fitzgerald did not bring any significant change to the asylum process and the Direct Provision System. As Mike FitzGibbon and Dr Jacqui O’Riordan of UCC wrote, “Fitzgerald continued to lack empathy [and action] on asylum [system]. Fitzgerald shows an unwillingness to address any of the key issues of asylum, such as the ignorance and venality of those sitting in judgement over asylum seekers. Fitzgerald’s suggestion that “there would also be significant issues in allowing illegal immigrants access to the labour market, in the context of the very large number of people unemployed in the State,” displays a lack of understanding of both asylum (according to the UN Refugee Convention, to which Ireland is bound, people seeking asylum should not be treated as “illegal”), and commerce, while continuing to ensure the marginalisation of the asylum-seeking community. […] In her preparedness to trade human rights for a flawed economic justification, Fitzgerald is following her predecessor, Alan Shatter, who adopted the position of a commissioned ‘value for money’ analysis, declaring that “there are no cheaper alternatives to the direct provision system”. (2)

The recent protests by asylum seekers in various direct provision centres are a clear sign of how much the residents in these centres are suffering. The Direct Provision System must be completely removed and asylum seekers should be given the right to work, higher education and housing.

“It would seem, from Fitzgerald’s statements, that the degradation that is life in direct provision, and the refusal of the right to work, will continue to be inflicted unnecessarily on asylum seekers. The internationally embarrassing rate of refusal of asylum will also continue”.

In June 2014 Minister Fitzgerald said that ''a new legislation for asylum seekers is ‘a priority’''. But her emphasis was on the economic cost of judicial reviews taken by asylum seekers and other legal procedures. She also said, “There are no plans to grant an amnesty to asylum seekers based on the length of time spent in the asylum system. […] Clearly there would also be significant issues in allowing illegal immigrants access to the labour market in the context of the very large number of people unemployed in the State. Similar issues would arise in respect of access to the housing market and its related supports.”

Her mindset is obvious: She is not planing any radical action about the Direct Provision System and she equates asylum seekers (which is not an illegal status to have) to 'illegal immigrants'

As the suffering of the asylum seekers continue, there is little hope that the government will do anything about the Direct Provision System. A tiny fraction of the monies given to the bank bailout funds and interest payments to EU/IMF/ECB Troika would have been sufficient to resolve the issues asylum seekers are facing, with the outcome of very many positive impact on their lives and the society in Ireland.

We must continue to highlight the problems of asylum seekers and stand in solidarity with them. The political choices of the government must be exposed and we need to build a strong political alternative to the system we live in.

End Direct Provision System | No Deportations | Right to work for asylum seekers
Right to permanent residency and citizenship

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