Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Asylum seekers' plight highlighted

Asylum seekers, refugees, human rights supporters and members of the public march to the Department of Justice

The Irish State could be left apologising for another national scandal if asylum seekers are kept institutionalised, it has been claimed.

Retired Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness also warned Justice Minister Alan Shatter "could be chased through the courts" if the youngsters of immigrants are not treated as equals in line with the children's referendum.

Up to 300 people marched through Dublin to his department as part of a national day of action to end Direct Provision, the hostel-style accommodation for asylum seekers.

Ms McGuinesss said the institutionalised accommodation was created as a "panic reaction" to the large number of asylum seekers who arrived in Ireland during the boom and has been allowed to drag on with no outside observation.

She said the standards were having a bad effect on families and particularly children, who should be protected under last year's referendum.

"As the text of the change of the constitution says it's for all children and I think it's very important these children should be safeguarded," said Ms McGuinness, patron of the Irish Refugee Council.

"I would be very concerned that in the future we find ourselves with another huge thing to apologise for, for people who have been kept in institutions for many years with very little supervision and no recourse from the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman for Children and no outside direction on what's happening with them."

Almost a third of the 4,800 people living in Direct Provision accommodation are children.

Under the system the asylum seekers live in hostel-style accommodation where they receive three meals a day and a weekly allowance of 19.10 euro per adult and 9.60 euro per child.

The former judge also called for Ireland to sign up to an EU directive for asylum seekers to be allowed to work while awaiting a decision on residency.

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