“He Took Me Around Some Bushes”


Screen-Shot-2014-09-05-at-11.05.41-1024x678A section from a ‘prayer flag’ found in The Old Convent direct provision centre in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, in 2010

Brian O’Connell continued his series on direct provision this morning, on RTÉ’s Today With Seán O’Rourke show. During his discussion with Mr O’Rourke, Mr O’Connell played another interview he had with a woman who has engaged in prostitution to supplement the €19.10 she gets from the State every week.

The interview started with the woman – whose name and place of residence was not reported – saying a girl approached her and told her how some Irish men would be “looking for black girls” and how “they offer you some money. I tried it once.”

Brian O’Connell: “Was it the case that a friend of yours referred that person to you?”

Woman: “She was with a man and most Irish men know, in the centres, I know I’ve met one who asked me ‘do you come from the centre up the hill?’ And I said, ‘yeah’. And he said, ‘well would you like come clean my house?’ And I said ‘yeah, that would be OK.’ And he came and met me next to the place and then he took me around some bushes and then he told me he just wanted to feel my body and paid me €10. Yeah.”

Brian O’Connell: “And how did you feel?”

Woman: “Worthless, worth €10, for someone to feel your body, that someone would just look at you and feel you’re worth €10, how shit would that be? When you do it, you don’t do it because you want to do it, because your body wants it. You do it to get a little bit of something. A little bit of money to help you. Not for yourself, for your son – maybe he needs to go to swimming classes, school trips are very expensive, yeah.”

O’Connell: “And these men that you’re meeting, are they married?”

Woman: “They are married, of course they’re married, cause when they call you in the evenings, they ask you not to call them.”

O’Connell: “Is it fair to say that you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t in the [direct provision] system?”

Woman: “I don’t think I’d be doing that because I envisioned a life of freedom, going to school, get a job, contribute to the economy. You know, everyone has dreams in life and you don’t dream of selling your body, you don’t do that.”

O’Connell: “Do the men call to the centre?”

Woman: “They call outside the centre.”

O’Connell: “So they don’t go inside the centre?”

Woman: “No they don’t.”

O’Connell: “Do you think if asylum seekers, like yourself, were able to work, that it would have a huge impact on your lives?”

Woman: “If you’re given the right to work, why won’t you work and feed your kids? Why won’t you work and look after yourself? You don’t want to sponge of someone. I [inaudible] one  Irishman and he called me a parasite.”

O’Connell: “Can you tell me a little bit about the rejection?”

Woman: “He was calling me names, n*gger, bitch, whore, and I didn’t like that. And then I told him I don’t like such names. He say, ‘oh, parasite, you sponge off the country’. He called me so many names, yeah.”

O’Connell: “When I was at the centre a couple of nights ago, I think I might have seen you leave.”

Woman: “Yeah.”

O’Connell: “Can you tell me where you were going?”

Woman: “I was going to meet one of the men. Just for 20 minutes.”

O’Connell: “And was there money involved?”

Woman: “Of course.”

O’Connell: “Do you mind me asking how much?”

Woman: “Just €30 because they often tell you, it’s in the car. It’s not in a hotel, it’s not in a bed, so €30, €40.”

O’Connell: “It seems surprising to a lot of people that it took this long for women like yourself to tell your story and  the minister [for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald] that media reports could further stereotype you.”

Woman: “When someone comes out, they give you a voice to come out too because, before that, no one cared, no one really cares what we go through.”

Listen back here

Pic: Asylum Archive

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26 thoughts on ““He Took Me Around Some Bushes”

  1. Starina

    f*cking hell. why isn’t the government snappig into action? and who decided €19.10 a week was anything but mockery?!

      1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

        I guess there are a lot of vested interests there. I used to live near Herbert Place and often (most nights, really) saw a local prostitute walking along the canal. She NEVER got further than halfway down the road before she was picked up and they were big fancy new cars, more often than not. It never ceased to amaze me. God love her. I dread to think what her life was like.

  2. Haroo von Haroo

    It is like something out of a world war 2. Imagine the uproar if Irish women were in the same situation abroad.

  3. Mr. T.

    This decision by RTE (particularly the O’Rourke’s programme) to focus on these women resorting to prostitution is more to do with discrediting them than any genuine attempt to have direct provision centres and the asylum process reformed or abolished.

    The scandal is not the prostitution.

    The scandal is the flawed State policy which is resulting in it happening in the first place.

    1. Caroline

      I disagree. I don’t even know if it’s possible to discredit a vulnerable person for resorting to prostitution. Knowledge of the state policy has been reasonably widespread for years. What hasn’t been heard as much are these women’s stories, nor the fact that the children’s ombudsman is unable to act as she would wish (a legal gap known about for some time and only now receiving greater attention). In other words, the effects of the policy, not the existence of the policy itself, are the only thing that might force a change.

    2. Nigel

      It doesn’t discredit the women, it discredits the system, not that it had much credit left, but this is a shocking low.

    3. ESV

      What are you talking about? Discredit them how? Don’t you mean discredit the scum who pay them less than the price of a packet of cigarettes for sex, knowing that they are too desperate and cornered to refuse? Don’t you mean discredit the State which has allowed this situation to develop and worsen, hoping that Irish journalists would stay at the Niamh Horan level and not bother with a story which requires actual investigation and hard graft?

      There. Fixed it for you.

      1. Janet

        I think the operative word is attempting to discredit. .. there’s unfortunately enough narrow minded gobshites out there to focus on that part of the story or to even see it as a reason to look down on someone in what so

    1. Nigel

      A good solution would be a speedier process whereby a decision would be reached as to whether she should be allowed stay or sent home, for a start. Otherwise, increase their allowance and/or allow them to work.

    2. fmong

      Another good solution would be to send the men who pay these women for sex, to the war-torn fupped up hell hole countries that they fled from. That’s an excellent solution.

    3. Anne

      Some of these people have been here a decade and more. It wouldn’t be fair at this stage to send them home.

      Also, tens of millions has been paid to the direct provision centre owners/cronies.. They’re not in any rush to send anyone home.

  4. ahyeah

    Every now and again, I see or read or hear something that makes me feel a little ashamed of my gender. Nasty, grubby, opportunistic scum.

  5. Louis Lefronde

    Nothing changes in ‘Knackerland’

    And by this expression ‘Knacker’ I mean the type of people who know this is happening and do nothing, who preside over these detention centres and the inhumane conditions within, who decided a human being could survive on €19.10 per week when it is obvious they can’t, who have the power to change this and won’t, and who know their are vulnerable people who can be so easily exploited and allow it to happen.

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