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For many years only a small group of people and a few organisations have campaigned for ending the Direct Provision System (DPS). Their voices, along with the voices of asylum seekers were constantly and conveniently ignored by the governments of the past 15 years. Even the demands for some very limited reforms did not trigger any actions by the governments and asylum seekers were simply abandoned in this extremely dysfunctional system.

15 years later, from the president of the country to the senators, from NGO’s to progressive political groups, everyone agrees that there is something fundamentally wrong with DPS. The government finally had to listen and start responding to the calls from asylum seekers and campaign groups. We don’t know yet what action the government will take but the calls to abolish the DPS are very popular and these calls receive a much wider recognition and acceptance in the society.

This new political atmosphere opens up new opportunities for the campaigners to push further their demands to abolish the DPS.

Now is the time to shift the debate from 'whether the DPS is wrong or inhumane or not' to 'how we end this system and how we finally normalise the existence of asylum seekers in Ireland'. We have past the point of having to prove to everyone the how horrible of a system the DPS is. We need to use this opportunity and move on to abolish it.

There are certain problems to which a delayed solution is not acceptable because of the huge negative impact these have on people’s lives and because the effects cannot be reversed. DPS is such a problem and there are already people suffering in DPS for many years. We can’t simply say “sorry” to a child growing up in DPS, or a young person living in it for many years and move on. We can’t reverse their lives and bad experiences and start again. That’s why we can’t accept a delayed solution to DPS and we must insist on a speedy abolishment of this system.

It is now the time that the asylum seekers can leave behind the miseries of DPS and can get on with their lives. It is also time for Ireland to recognise the importance of making use of the diverse skill set and experiences of asylum seekers that were put on hold for many years due to ban on employment. Asylum seekers don’t just bring stories of sadness and horror; they also bring cultural richness, new life experiences and various skills. I have worked with asylum seekers for many years and I had students who were scientists, nurses, teachers, skilled or unskilled workers etc. What is good for asylum seekers will also be good for the greater society.

The abolishment of DPS needs to include the right to work and the right to higher education. Working asylum seekers will not create further unemployment. Working asylum seekers will pay taxes, they will, like all citizens, spend money for services, and food, etc. This in turn will be a contribution to the economy. Asylum seekers will not create further housing shortages. The millions spent to keep them in DPS centres, owned and run by private business is wasted money without doing any god to anyone except the landlords and private businesses. The money spent to legal cases to deport asylum seekers is also doing no good to anyone. These funds are wasted and can be used for housing and other public services.

The state and the government did not come to the conclusion to look into DPS out of their goodness. They were forced by ongoing campaigns and demands. It would be wrong to assume that they will go the extra mile to abolish DPS. There are already various initiatives to introduce some reforms but the loud and clear demand must be to abolish it altogether. Too many articles, reports, research papers have already been written about DPS. Now is the time for real and positive action. We don’t want working groups that are ignoring the demands of asylum seekers and come up with only some limited changes.

No more dossiers, no more reports, no more statistical researches and talk shops…

Enough is enough!

Time to abolish the DPS and give the asylum seekers the right to work and education; protect them with full residency rights!

The DPS was introduced temporarily as an ‘emergency measure’ in 1999. 15 years later the emergency is to shut it down.

As we saw at the rally today in Dublin, asylum seekers are not giving up on their demands to end the DPS and there are plenty others who are supporting them.  Today, 1000 people, mostly asylum seekers shouted loud and clear: Give us our freedom!

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