DIRECT PROVISION IN IRELAND – LIKE PRISON, ONLY FOR THE INNOCENT

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Today on Facebook everyone at home in Letterkenny is posting about our appalling treatment of a 47 year old alcoholic who’s been homeless for a year and can’t find accommodation. People are crying outrage that an Irish citizen, one of our own, could be treated so badly by the “system” and the story is on its way to becoming viral. I pity this man and for the situation he finds himself in, but it annoys me that he could get so much more attention and publicity than the horrific and rather similar treatment we’re giving to hundreds of asylum seekers every day in Ireland. We’re such hypocrites. We say it’s awful that these people are suffering, we say that something has to be done and then we wait for someone else to do something about it. I hate that typical “someone else will pick up the pieces” attitude. It bugs me that we can be so apathetic towards the entire lives of others.
Once upon a time Alan Shatter stood up and spoke out against direct provision in Ireland. He was appalled. He was embarrassed that we’d let it get so out of hand. There was promise of change. Then, in typical Irish form, he found himself on the other side of things and his drive to change things disappeared with his place on the opposition. He turned a blind eye to the abuse we’re giving to those who come to us seeking refuge and hope of a new life. He just… well…. he just changed his mind really. We should all be so ashamed of how we’re treating these people. I think we need to reassess how our country is behaving towards those seeking our help and now is just a good a time as ever to do it given the imminent reform of the Immigration Residence and Protection Bill.
It struck me when I was reading horror stories in the newspapers and reports that our direct provision policy is basically another term for prison. It’s just a sentence for the innocent, a sugar-coated term to make us feel better about throwing families into overcrowded, unhygienic and generally abysmal living conditions. Privacy is too much of a luxury for them and set meal times are a given. In fact, no. I take it back. It’s not prison. It’s worse. I dare say prisoners in Ireland would get more rights than the impoverished families we’ve thrown into the hell-like realm of Irish direct provision. These poor people come to us seeking nothing but the chance to start over their lives in a safe environment and instead we put them through three years (on average) of a waiting list before we approve (if even) their applications.
In August last year Justice Stevens in the Northern Irish high court refused point blank to send a family back to direct provision because of how inhuman that would be not just to the adults but to the children. I can only imagine what stories were told in that court to have forced Justice Stevens to stage such a large intervention.
Then you’ve got this “three years on average” quote about direct provision that doesn’t seem all that accurate either – another recent case had an 8 year old girl taken from her mother who had been born into direct provision and who spent almost a decade knowing nothing else. It’s appalling to think that direct provision is an answer given by our beloved Ireland, land of the “Cead Mile Failtes”. I think we’re kidding ourselves if we say our hospitality exists beyond the Gathering. Surely we can do better and welcome more than just American tourists with the money to burn to merit our ever reliable Irish charm.
I’m sorry for this hastily written post, I just wanted to say something on direct provision before going home this week. I know I’ll not have time to blog on it later and I just felt that I’d better say something than nothing at all.
Sorcha
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