Tag Archives: Direct Provision

A poster from the Department of Justice in a Direct Provision centre in Dublin offering people living at the centre means to travel to Dublin’s LGBTQ Pride this weekend

The Department of Justice has placed posters in some Direct Provision centres in Dublin, telling residents that it will provide transport for those who wish to attend Dublin’s Pride this weekend.

Further to this.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland has tweeted its thoughts on the offer…

UPDATE:

Previously: ‘I Was Treated Like A Pariah’

Hatch Hall, Lower Hatch Street Dublin 2

Last night.

RTÉ reported:

“The Direct Provision Centre Hatch Hall, which is situated in Dublin city centre, will close next month.

“The Department of Justice says it is due to circumstances beyond the control of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).”

According to the Reception and Integration Agency, as of October 28, 2018, 223 people were living in Hatch Hall.

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile…

This evening…

Stop Deportations, End Direct Provision Demonstration (Facebook)

UPDATE:

Last year, on August 2,  asylum seeker Sylva Tukula, who was living in the Direct Provision system in Galway city, died.

Due to Sylva’s status, the Department of Justice and Equality was ‘obligated to investigate the circumstances of her death, to liaise with friends and fellow residents of the Direct Provision centre where she lived, and to make culturally-appropriate burial arrangements’.

Via Teach Solais, an LGBT resource centre in Galway City:

Close friends and colleagues of Sylva were assured by both national and local State representatives that we would be notified once arrangements were made.

Sadly, we were recently informed that our dear friend was buried by the State at the beginning of May.

Members of our community and, especially those close to Sylva, were devastated to hear of her burial with no one close to her present.

We had the understanding that we would be made aware of the funeral arrangements in advance so that our community, Sylva’s Galway family, could be a part of this service, and to ensure that her life was celebrated on the day of her burial.

We continually checked with Government representatives for updates, while receiving no new information regarding any arrangements.

The fact that Sylva’s burial occurred in the absence of a ceremony, and without attendance, is deeply offensive to everyone close to Sylva, particularly members of the LGBT+ community who lived in the Great Western, who knew her from the Eglinton Direct Provision centresin Galway City and those that met her throughout her life in Galway.

This abhorrent news has left many in shock, with those in the direct provision sites feeling that they will be buried alone thousands of miles away from people they grew up with by the Irish State.

We are left with more questions than answers as to how this has been allowed to occur.

Our dear friend Sylva was failed by the system in which she was entrapped, in many ways; yet at all times she bore these failings with grace, with dignity and with a warm smile.

We strongly request this matter be investigated both to the fullest possible extent and in a timely manner, to establish how this system failed our friend Sylva this last, final time.

In her honour we must ensure that this tragic outcome does not occur again, to anyone.

Teach Solais (Facebook)

Yesterday: ‘The Department Of Justice Is Not The Appropriate Department’

Via The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)

We agree with the organisations and independent experts that have called for an end to Direct Provision.

Ireland’s history of grave and systematic abuse in institutions should make it obvious that the State cannot discharge its constitutional, European or international human rights responsibilities towards individuals who need the State’s assistance by (1) outsourcing social service provision to private, largely unaccountable, commercial entities and (2) containing people in institutions operated by those entities.

We also agree with the recommendations  from the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI)) that the Department of Justice is not the appropriate Department with which to place responsibility for meeting the accommodation, health and other social service needs of people seeking international protection.

The direct testimonies of people living in Direct Provision – particularly their experiences of being isolated from society, being forced into a relationship of almost total dependency on the managers of the institutions in which they live, and being denied access to many basic opportunities and services in Irish society – convey a clear sense that people in Direct Provision feel, and are effectively, living in punitive detention.

We believe that the fact of placing responsibility for Direct Provision in the Department of Justice contributes to this penal culture and practice.

We are reminded of the treatment of a group of survivors of the Magdalene Laundries who applied to the ex gratia scheme which the Department of Justice has administered since 2013, and whose experiences were the subject of the Ombudsman’s Report in late 2017, Opportunity Lost.

The Ombudsman’s report demonstrated that there was a culture of disbelieving survivors within the Department of Justice, and of going overboard to ‘protect against fraudulent claims’.

The Department that had been responsible for detaining girls and women in Magdalene Laundries, both as part of the ordinary criminal justice system and on an ad hoc basis through the involvement of An Garda Síochána, was not of an appropriate mindset to administer ‘restorative justice’ measures to women who had suffered grave human rights violations in Magdalene Laundries.

ICCL submission on Direct Provision

ICCL

Earlier: Blue Wave

This morning.

In Committee Room 2 in Leinster House.

Members of the Irish Refugee Council and Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) – including Lucky Khambule and Bulelani Mfaco – are appearing before the Oireachtas justice committee.

They are discussing direct provision and the international protection process.

Just yesterday, the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said direct provision centres are unsuitable for longer-term occupation and called for a formal resettlement programme to be put in place.

At the end of his opening contribution, Mr Mfaco said:

“We are human beings, like everyone, like all of you. All we ask is that we be treated as such. The very fact that people have to ask the Government to treat them humanely should shame all of you.”

UPDATE:

Donnah Vumah, of MASI, told the committee that there is a dearth of mental health services available to people living in direct provision.

She said the “only thing there at the moment” are posters in the centres telling people they can contact The Samaritans or Spirasi (an organisation which helps survivors of torture who are asylum seekers, refugees, or other disadvantaged migrant groups).

However, Donnah said securing an appointment with Spirasi requires asylum seekers to get that appointment through a referral from a solicitor or from a GP and that usually takes a “very long time”.

She added:

“This is why we find that a lot of people tend to turn to things like sleeping tablets or alcohol, they develop a lot of addictions such as gambling addictions because they are trying to find a way to cope with living in that situation.”

Lucky Khambule told the committee that the number of suicide attempts in direct provision centres has increased in the past 18 months.

He said last year alone there were five deaths in direct provision.

He said some of these deaths concerned individuals with mental health issues while some were using sleeping tablets.

“We feel this is not qualified obviously, that the provision of the tablets, in terms of addressing the mental health issue, is the wrong one. The psychological traumas that people do face in direct provision are the things that need to be addressed in a very, very serious way.

“Otherwise we will see more deaths happening in direct provision because we ignore the signs that are there on mental health issues.”

MASI member Tinda Ndlovu told the committee that she and her three children live in Direct Provision.

She said that her eldest child, aged nine, has previously said to her:

“Sometimes when I feel sad, I feel like kiling myself.”

Mr Mfaco, who is gay and living in Knockalisheen Direct Provision Centre in Clare, spoke about homophobic slurs that he has received at the centre.

He said he doesn’t trust anyone in the centre and when he goes to eat in its canteen, he will sit somewhere with his back against the wall as he doesn’t feel comfortable.

He added:

“You have staff members in direct provision who also undermine privacy for individuals.

“I was sitting in my room one day and they knocked once and they opened the door. It’s a lady who worked in Knockalisheen. She knocked once, she opened the door and I was sitting in my room getting ready to go and have a shower.

“So obviously I had my underwear on.

“The next time it happened it was a manager in Knockalisheen direct provision centre who walked into the men’s showers, in the men’s block…She opened the door in the men’s showers, she looked, and then she closed the doors and said ‘sorry’ as she walked away.

“It’s a man’s shower. What are you expecting to see there? Like privacy means nothing to them.”

“We’ve had similar incidences in Hatch Hall Direct Provision Centre and in Balseskin Direct Provision Centre [both in Dublin] where either a staff person walks into a room where a person is naked or another resident walks into a room and the person is naked.”

“We’ve had experiences from children who feel unsafe in the way that men look at them, creepily, it’s been reported in the news.

“…women who feel unsafe sharing those intimate living spaces with other people because a lot of the women, some of them would have suffered torture or sexual violence and to be placed then in a position where you feel you’re unsafe again becomes very cruel.”

Mr Mfaco also spoke about the sexual exploitation of some people living in direct provision.

He said:

When people aren’t allowed to work legally, it creates then the openness for whoever wants to exploit them to actually do… and we’ve had people who come to MASI who work from 7am in the morning until 5pm and they are only paid €25 to €27.

“It becomes very difficult then for a person to live a normal life because they don’t have a sense of what their rights are once they are actually given permission to leave – they might just continue with that exploitation.

“We’ve also had people being offered money for sex in direct provision.

“Because people know that there are people who are getting paid €21.60 per week, it’s now €38.80, and you have to live.

“I’ve been offered money for sex, there are children who’ve been offered money for sex, there are women who’ve been offered money for sex.

“So it becomes very, the exploitation, we don’t know to what extent that it is happening but we have reports from our work and other people.”

Christopher Sibanda, who has lived in a direct provision centre in Waterford for the past three years and travels to Dublin for college every day – therefore spends six hours on the road – told the committee that he shares a room with three other men.

He said the room is four metres long by four metres wide.

He said he would invite any politician to join him and a spend a night in his centre to see what life is like in direct provision.

He said:

“In that same environment, in that same centre, Viking House, there is no area where if you come today and visit me, where you can sit and talk to me, just greet me. There is none.

“That is not human living.

“The jailer-prisoner attitude that pervades there is not for human beings.

“…the treatment by the centre managements, I don’t know what is in place by RIA [Reception Integration Agency] that has been put in place for training of the people that work there because they do have the feeling that they are jailers there and that we are prisoners.

“And that they are doing favours for us.

From the kitchen staff – you get people being thrown with plates of food. Some times those plates will fall and people will laugh.

That happens to human beings [inaudible] who will be in a queue by the way and you will then beg for food.

“If you happen to miss a meal, you miss a meal, you know you’ve missed a meal, you can come back, the same food that has not been served because I missed meal obviously, there will be leftovers, cannot be served to me because I’m out of meal time.

“That is not human.”

Mr Sibanda also said he cannot take a lunch from the centre with him when he leaves for college.

Mr Mfaco also spoke about how many children and adults “warehoused” in direct provision centres are prevented from integrating in Irish society and, in fact, “segregated” from Irish people.

He said:

“Like when you go, get off the bus in Limerick city centre. You see all these brown people, you actually see Irish people staring at us and going ‘where did this bus come from?’

“It has brown people. They don’t look like, they look different, it only has them.

“Everybody knows it’s from a direct provision centre.

“When the bus shows up at the school. Some of the school kids are ashamed, of their friends to know, but everybody knows that that school bus is going to take them to a direct provision centre.”

Mr Mfaco said it’s a similar situation for adult asylum seekers when they go to their local Post Office to collect their weekly allowance.

“Everybody in the queue, everybody in the Post Office staff, know that that person lives in a direct provision centre.

“…you’re constantly reminded of how bad your life is, and you’re constantly reminded that you are not considered part of Irish society. You’re divorced from social life, you can’t really socialise on €38.80 while you’re living in Mount Trenchard [Limerick], there is no public transport.

“There is no public transport in Knockalisheen and other direct provision centres as well.”

He later added:

We get called ‘welfare scroungers, fee loaders. We’ve had, in the election campaign, we’ve been called freeloaders, we never asked.

“When an asylum seeker came to Ireland, they never asked the Irish Government for a plate of food. Nobody arrives at Dublin Airport and says ‘I’d like to have food please’.

“So when you tell me that you’re providing me with food, I never asked for any of that, I asked for protection. 

“So it becomes very difficult to even begin to talk about integration for us when we have people being warehoused in direct provision centres without access to very basic everyday things.”

The meeting can be watched in the video link above and here.

Previously: In Direct Provision For 14 Years

Former High Court Judge Bryan McMahon, second pic, and Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, at the Oireachtas Justice Committee this morning

This morning.

Retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon – as former chairman of the Working Group on the Protection Process and Direct Provision which produced a report in June 2015  making 173 recommendations – appeared before the Oireachtas justice committee to talk about direct provision.

Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, also attended the meeting.

Mr McMahon told the committee that the most recent figures show a total of 702 people have been living in Direct Provision for four years or more.

Breaking down these figures he said 346 people have been living in direct provision for at least four years – 75 of whom have their status granted, 41 of whom have deportation orders and 230 whose applications are under consideration.

He also explained there are:

141 people who are waiting five years or more

66 who are waiting six years or more,

63 who are waiting seven years or more,

16 who are waiting eight years or more,

19 who are waiting nine years or more,

26 waiting 10 years or more,

13 who are waiting 11 years or more,

Eight waiting 12 years or more,

One waiting 13 years or more,

Three waiting 14 years or more.

In his June 2015 report, Mr McMahon recommended that asylum seekers be given the right to work.

Almost three years after this report, in February 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that Ireland’s asylum seeker work ban was unconstitutional. This followed a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court, in June 2017.

Today, asylum seekers who have not received a first instance recommendation within nine months of applying for protection are allowed to apply for an employment permit.

But the process is very restrictive and requires people to have secured employment in specific sectors with a salary of a minimum of €30,000 per year.

This morning, Mr Killoran said, in respect of asylum seekers working, significant issues acting as barriers to employment including banking – in terms of asylum seekers being able to open an account into which they can be paid – and the current inability for asylum seekers to obtain driving licences.

Mr Killoran also pointed out that the level of knowledge among asylum seekers that they can work is “incredibly low”.

Mr McMahon told the committee that, according to the Department of Justice, approximately 2,300 applications for work have been made with 1,600 having been approved.

He also said there were 632 employment declaration forms have been returned, suggesting that, in total, around 25-30% of employment applications are being approved.

Mr McMahon said when he was carrying out his work for his 2015 report, he and his team met architects, economists, university lecturers and tradespeople living in direct provision centres.

He said:

“There’s work for everyone, we’re told by the economists now, and if you come for a small town or a local provincial town, you will hear people complaining that they can’t get someone to tend their garden or to do handiwork or to paint the house of whatever it is – which you might imagine might be in some of the direct provision centres.

“…I’m surprised to hear that it’s [the right to work] not that publicised in direct provision centres that much. That of course is a crying shame if it’s not posted in all these direct provision centres that, after nine months, you’re entitled to work. And that should be promoted.”

“…The one thing I’d mention is, when we did our report, we came across a phenomenon which was quite depressing. If these people remain in direct provision centres for five and six and seven years – they lost the will to work. And they became deskilled. Their skills atrophied.

“And they became institutionalised.

“…One man said to me, I asked him one time in one of the centres ‘how are you getting on?’, I was inquiring about his legal papers. And he said to me, ‘Forget about my legal status. Just let me get up in the morning, have my breakfast, go to work, come back in the evening. I’ll work for nothing. Come back in the evening, sit down with my wife and children and say ‘today, I worked’.”

“…There’s a missed opportunity somewhere there.”

Mr Killoran also spoke to the committee about trafficking and sexual exploitation – led by Irish and international “organised crime gangs” who often work in collaboration.

He said there needs to be a change in looking at trafficking as an immigration issue – pointing out that many victims are from EU countries who enjoy freedom of movement – and for it to be viewed more as a gender-based violence issue.

He said in 2016, the State engaged in 19 investigations concerning victims of trafficking and in 2017 this figure rose to 115. These investigation related to both labour exploitation and sexual exploitation.

Mr Killoran said the official figures for 2018 have yet to be released but it’s expected that there will be an increase on the 2017 figure.

He pointed out:

“It’s something that’s increasing in prevalence and increasing in detection but what we’re not seeing I suppose is an increase level of conviction of traffickers which is the biggest single issue.”

“…we haven’t convicted a trafficker in Ireland yet. And that’s a hugely, massive area.”

Watch back in full here

From top: Sociologist and asylum seeker living in Ireland Evgeny Shtorn, from Russia; founder of the ‘Something From There’ Community Project

The National Gallery of Ireland writes:

The National Gallery in Dublin wishes to reach out to a wide range of people living in Direct Provision to explore your experiences of coming to and living in Ireland.

This artist-led project [conceived by Evgeny Shtorn] will take its lead from an object (or objects) that you brought here to Ireland with you, and the meaning that these objects might now have.

Participation in the project will include attendance at workshops in the gallery once a month between June and December 2019.

The gallery encourages people from all communities to apply, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community. There are a limited number of places available on this project.

The deadline to apply is May 22.

More details on the project and how to apply here

Previously: Sinful Pride

You’re Cordially Invited

Free lunchtime next Wednesday?

In Limerick?

MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland) will hold a local election hustings on Direct Provision at Central Buildings at 51 O’Connell St in Limerick city from 1.05pm to 1.55pm.

MASI write:

“Find out where the political parties stand on Direct Provision at this lunchtime event in Central Buildings Limerick. Each party will be given a chance to outline their party’s position, and we will have time for questions at the end.”

Meanwhile…

In Cork.

Next Thursday, May 16, at 7.30pm in the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs.

The Irish Examiner will hold a debate involving the South candidates for the European Election on May 24.

The event will be moderated by Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner Policial Editor, and Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner Special Correspondent.

Tickets for the event can be booked here

LE 2019 – Lunchtime Hustings on Direct Provision (Facebook)

UL Student Life tweetz:

Is Direct Provision Apart Of Ireland 2040?

Our Student Officers organised a silent demonstration against the direct provision system today to greet An Taoiseach @leovaradkar & Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform @Paschald

Students wore duct tape on their mouths to symbolise those that live in direct provision’s fear in speaking up in case it would negatively affect their asylum application.

Meanwhile, inside the university…

Junior Housing Minister Damien English’s planned speech can be read here

Yesterday: You Are Cordially Invited