[Direct provision accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Lissywoolen, Athlone, Co. Westmeath]
There are approximately 4,360 asylum seekers living in direct provisions centres across Ireland. The adults among them are allowed to vote in the local elections.
However, election candidates are not allowed to canvass at the centres.
On this matter, Joan O’Connell writes on her blog:
“If politics is conceived as a zero-sum competition for power, then this step by a state agency can be regarded as the yet another exercise of power over an already almost totally disempowered group in Irish society. The near-total exclusion of asylum seekers from participating in the society where they live is highly questionable.
“By denying election candidates the opportunity to canvass the views of certain constituents, this “policy” impedes the opportunity for candidates to hear the views of asylum seekers and others – to hear their minds and voices. In turn, the “policy” hampers the ability of voters in direct provision centres to be fully informed about their rights and obligations, and to contribute to and influence the local politics – which by law they are entitled to do. If voices are silenced and bodies remain invisible, what does this mean for the ideas and leadership which shape Irish society?”
Joan O’Connell’s blog post, An interference with democratic process: The right to vote in Ireland, in full here
UCD law lecturer Dr Liam Thornton writes:
“Asylum seekers not even entitled to receive leaflets from political parties…”