From top: University of Limerick; Aramark logo; students protesting at UL
On RTÉ One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Journalist Brian O’Connell reported on a campaign by some students at the University of Limerick calling on others to boycott the catering services of Aramark on the college’s campus.
Aramark is a food and facilities management firm and provides services at three of Ireland’s 32 direct provision centres.
University of Limerick is what’s known as a “sanctuary” university as it provides places to 23 students who live in direct provision centres free of charge.
Ciara ‘Jo’ Hanlon, student president in UL, told Mr O’Connell:
“We’ve written to the president of the university Des Fitzgerald. And we have a meeting set up where we will go and discuss with him direct provision and the Aramark contract.
“And we’re going to start trying to do boycotts around campus, just to highlight Aramark’s involvement in these direct provision centres across the country.”
Mr O’Connell asked Ms Hanlon about a leaflet which Aramark recently handed out to students in UL – in which Aramark defended its involvement in direct provision.
Mr O’Connell explained that the leaflet states direct provision is Government policy and Aramark has no say in the establishment of the system or the asylum application process.
Ms Hanlon responded:
“As it is said on paper, this seems like a perfect argument and I’ve been made aware that the same sheet of paper, these same facts, have been released to Trinity.
“So it’s true to say that Aramark do profit from students but it’s not to say that they’re immune from scrutiny. Of course students go and look at other aspects of their business and one of those being that they’re profiting from these direct provision centres.
“And we, as I said, we have 23 students, sanctuary students, who live in these direct provision centres, here on UL campus.
“The primary aim would be if Aramark would reverse its policy or, if not, to remove them off our campus.
“Now, as I say, I’ve brought this to the attention of Des Fitzgerald. We’ve yet to have a meeting with him. I do think once we start raising awareness, we will garner an awful lot of support around the campus.”
“I’d love if Aramark actually came to the university and sat down with some of our sanctuary students and talked to them about their own personal experiences of direct provision.
“As I said, it looks very good on paper but when you hear these stories coming from people who are living in these centres, it’s completely different.”
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