The Institutionalisation Of 1,818 Children In Ireland



Irish Refugee Council CEO Sue Conlon has a piece, entitled Seven Years Like  A Robot, in the current edition of Village magazinedetailing how asylum-seekers live in Direct Provision accommodation in Ireland.

She explains that, as of December 17 last, there were 4,806 residents of Direct Provision, 38% (1,818) of which were children.

She writes:

“The Direct Provision system was set up in 2000 in response to a crisis towards the end of the 1990s when the numbers seeking asylum in Ireland had increased rapidly. Today more than a third of residents in the centres have lived in them for more than three years. What is difficult to understand is why the authorities maintain a system when the evidence is clear that it comes at huge expense – both financial and human.

“The centres are collectively known as ‘Direct Provision’ because the state provides directly for the immediate physical needs of asylum seekers. It is a system that has never been set out in legislation or defined in any publicly available document. But it has been rolled out in the form of accommodation facilities whose original use was for short term stay – mobile homes, holiday chalets, hotels, students’ hostels – with just a small number of purpose-built accommodation centres. All of them have been owned or at least run by private companies.

“The companies have never been required to have any particular training or oversight in order to accommodate, on a long term basis, vulnerable adults and children. Dispersal around the country is a central feature of the system. By and large, it is a system that is on a ‘no choice’ basis. You go where you are told, when you are told and often with little notice.

“In September 2012, the Irish Refugee Council published a report entitled ‘State sanctioned child poverty and exclusion: the case of children in state accommodation for asylum seekers’.  The report contained evidence dating back more than ten years of the way in which children, some of them Irish citizens, have been treated in the Direct Provision system.  The evidence included examples of malnutrition, poverty, overcrowding, lack of play space and the detrimental effect on family life.  To date, there has been no formal response from any Government Minister to the Report.


The IRC is co-ordinating a National Day of Action on April 23, as part of a campaign calling on the Government to end the Direct Provision system.

Seven years like a robot (Sue Conlon, Refugee Council)

Previously: The UN On Ireland’s Human Rights Defenders And Denis 

Top: Samuel Brian whose family is from Nigeria, protesting at the asylum centre in Mosney, Co Meath, in 2010 (Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

50 thoughts on “The Institutionalisation Of 1,818 Children In Ireland

  1. Diabhal

    Who, one wonders, are the owners of the companies running these centres of internment?
    We’re paying them an awful lot of money to treat children like shit.
    Well done us!

    1. Diabhal

      PS This was the first thing I thought of when Inda gave his little speech about the Magdalene women – we are now, as he so kindly pointed out, living in a more “compassionate Ireland”. Jaysis, I nearly choked on my own ears.

      1. cluster

        Yup, the same sort of sh!t going on. In a few decades we’ll look back and say, ‘How could this have happened?’

        1. Sido

          C’mon – Are we saying that Refugees are being forced to do laundry on a slave labour basis.
          Get Real!

          1. Diabhal

            Not laundry or slave labour, just a denial of basic human dignity and the promotion of a situation in which human rights are regularly degraded.
            Is that ok, so?

          2. Sido

            @ Roger – i was addressing my comments to Cluster.
            If I was addressing them to yourself – I would have added Knuckle dragging Clown.

          3. stoprefreshsearchhome

            And there you go again Sido. You must be twelve or so judging from your comments.

          4. Sido

            @ stoprefreshsearchhome
            I would sooner be young at heart than a pompous, self opinionated prig like yourself.

  2. Sido

    What’s the problem – the facilities seem considerably better than the tents one sees refugees housed in around the world.

    Further holding up placards as “proof” of your in human treatment – does not necessarily make any of the claims made these so.

    I also remember the shill Diabhal (above) from the last time these guys posted their obvious crap . – Well Diabhal I’ve heard your rubbish before and frankly I couldn’t give a damn

    1. mani

      Just hazarding a guess here, but maybe we expect to provide a better level of care to refugees.

      1. Sido

        Who says it’s a poor level of care?
        For the record I once worked close to refugees housed in Mayo, The level of care was quite reasonable.
        And to say these children are institutionalised is also unfair. Unless you consider the family an institution. And if that’s the case then all children in Ireland are institutionalised.
        At the end of the day Irish Care for Refugees is like Irish Social Welfare – you can moan about it when you are on it. But its a lot better than in a lot of other places.

        1. Pete Fitz

          Well I remember engaging with you the last time this was an issue Sido

          and your problem seems to be with the Irish Refugee Council whom you seemed to have moved from describing as being “economical with the truth” to “posting their obvious crap.”

          Indeed the IRC’s research is nothing is comparison to you having worked close to refugees in Mayo. May I ask if they were Programme refugees or asylum seekers in direct provision? They are very different levels of engagement.

          On another note, I resiled from calling you a troll on the other thread, I don’t know who Diabhal is but easy on calling people shills. Even following your own logic, shilling for an NGO trying to protect children from institutionalisation? For shame ! For the record, I don’t, nor have I ever worked for the IRC – but it is a great organisation.

          As as for the argument that “these children are institutionalised is also unfair. Unless you consider the family an institution. And if that’s the case then all children in Ireland are institutionalised.” That is nonsense. If you can’t admit to keep families in a single room, give them no option to even cook their own food and allow them no access to the job market for up to seven years is institutionalisation. And yes it is better than a refugee camp in Kenya, is that the height of our compassion?

          1. Sido

            I glad to see that you took the time to copy and paste my words of wisdom to your notepad, Pete. :-)

            No you can’t ask – Sido will always try and respect the confidentiality of others.

          2. Pete Fitz

            I can’t to reply to Sido below his post, but here goes – I don’t think there is any issue of confidentiality Sido – but nice side step and using a respect for rights argument too, dix points. As for quoting your words – it called engagement in good faith – try it, you might like it and even learn something ;-)

          3. Sido

            Pete – Here’s the problem you face.
            Spinning. Perverting the truth, whatever.
            Its become so last year, on Broadsheet.

            So last year in fact, that we even had some chancer from Fine Gael on here a couple of weeks ago, I would add spinning through his teeth.

            Sorry you don’t understand my point about confidentiality. You would do well to bear it in mind though. It might come in useful when you grow up.

          4. Pete Fitz

            Sido, I am not sure that I understand. I now don’t know if you are talking about your confidentiality or the asylum seekers/refugees you spoke about. If it is the latter I still don’t understand as my question was a categorisation one. I will reframe – do you know the difference between programme refugees and asylum seekers? As to growing up there is plenty grey in my beard so doesn’t look like I will learn now. I would agree the level of trolling and spin on broadsheet in comparison to last year makes it a less fun experience, but I always enjoyed most of your posts. Why have you such a blind spot over this ?

          5. Sido

            Yes Pete you are right that was a cheap shot, on my part.
            As for the confidentiality thing, I speak from the experience of one who has often made the mistake of having the lack of it.
            You ask why do I have a blind spot on this issue and I would ask the same question of you.
            Try this – look at the photo above through the eyes of someone who is cynical and detached from your work. What do you see?

    2. cluster

      Put compassion aside, then. This is a surefire way of crating crime.

      Force people to live off the state, refuse to allow them work or education, put in a pot and stir for 3+ years. What do you think the result will be?

      1. Sido

        But Cluster – You are not putting compassion behind.
        Because if you were, they wouldn’t be here in the first place.

        1. cluster

          That and EU law and international treaties.

          Once we have an obligation to accept certain people we should deal with it as smartly and as humanely as possible instead of storing up social problems for ourselves.

          1. Sido

            Sorry Cluster. I probably need to expand on that.

            Please don’t assume that because I take the view that the post by Irish Refugee Council is spin.
            That it follows that I disapprove of the EU Law and regulations.

          2. David L

            Sido, have you actually read the IRC report? It’s well-researched and factual, and presents a damning picture of our asylum system. And at the same time there’s nothing in it which will come as a surprise to anyone familiar with how badly this system treats people.

          3. Sido

            In fairness David L – No. I have not read their report.
            Why – how can I then have an opinion you would ask.
            It works a bit like this – In the Abortion Debate – I would side with the Pro Choice Movement. I do not have to read the copious essay’s on the Youth Defense Anti Abortion site to reassure myself of the validity of my opinions.

          4. David L

            Ok Sido, you just compared the Irish Refugee Council and all their work and research, to the nutters in Youth Defence. Nothing for it but to invoke an Irish version of Godwin’s Law. The conversation ends here.

        1. Diabhal

          Oh, but, don’t worry – I’m not with the Refugee Council, those corrupted purveyors of doo doo. I mean, where do they get off, pushing their shadowy agenda on the daycent, honest, hard-working, white people of this country, hah?

  3. Rob

    Would love to see a figure for how much we’ve spent on services for asylum-seekers/refugees. Certainly in the billions. There needs to be some way of expediating the application process. A decision in a week – no appeals. Then either deportation or leave to remain and a right to work.

  4. Tommy

    Why have the numbers entering Ireland seeking asylum dropped by 85% in the past ten years? Is it because they are actually economic migrants trying to avoid immigration restrictions?

    1. Roger

      I wouldn’t condemn anyone using asylum to seek a better life. If you want to blame someone, blame the system that doesn’t work.

      The Irish have been landing in the US for generations and working illegally. And now they want legal status.

      Swings and roundabouts.

      1. Tommy

        I would absolutely condemn them.A sovereign nation has a right to legislate for immigration and what does it say about someone when their first act in a new country is to commit a criminal offence. Illegal Irish emigrants are no different so your point is invalid.

    2. General Waste

      Which is why asylum seekers shouldn’t be interned. Just call it economic migration and get on with it.

      Nothing wrong with economic migration – as you point out, it regulates itself.

    3. Pete Fitz

      Tommy there are a number of possible reasons and there is very little research in this area. The number of asylum seekers throughout Europe peaked at the same time as ours did. The end of the wars in Yugoslavia and the accession of the new member states to the EU all led to drops in applications. The introduction of “leave to land” restrictions in Ireland, the drop in recognition rates in Ireland (at times the lowest in the European Union even for countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan), the culture of disbelief in the Irish determination process (one member of RAT refused over 1000 applications without a positive grant). Ireland refuses to implement the EU reception directive which would allow a right to work after a certain period. Asylum numbers are now increasing again in EU, but not here. Why maybe they all were economic migrants Tommy, but more likely asylum seekers are rational actors who make their decisions based on where they will find safety, where they will be given recognition, where they will be able to construct a life for themselves and finally they may have no option if they have engaged a smuggler or trafficker to move them. We don’t grant visas to people from countries where they might claim asylum here. Tommy you can find information on the statistics from Eurostat or UNHCR, the issues with regard to the system have been reported extensively in the IT and the IRC has a recent report on the culture of disbelief in the system.

      1. Diabhal

        Pete, keep on like that and you’re in danger of sparking a rational argument on immigration and asylum.
        Careful, now!
        (Go on ya good thing ya, btw.)

    4. cluster

      Even an asylum seeker is more likely to go to a country in rude economic health than one which is not. What is controversial baout that?

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