Belfast Telegraph

Direct Provision ‘biggest shame on Irish state’ since Magdalene Laundries

Conference calls for end to Direct Provision system for asylum seekers and reform of asylum process

The Mosney Direct Provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)
The Mosney Direct Provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

The Direct Provision system for asylum seekers is one of the biggest shames on the Irish state since the Magdalene Laundries, a conference has heard.

Masi, the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, held a conference in Dublin on Saturday calling for an end to the Direct Provision system and reform asylum process.

There are more than 6,000 asylum seekers placed in 37 Direct Provision centres across Ireland, with around 1,400 in emergency accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.

Adults living in asylum centres across the state receive a daily expenses allowance of 38.80 euro per week, while children will receive 29.80 euro.

Bulelani Mfaco, of Masi, said the Direct Provision system will be seen in years to come as “the biggest shame on the state since the Magdalene Laundries”.

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Former taoiseach Enda Kenny (Brian Lawless/PA)

In 2013, then Irish premier Enda Kenny apologised unreservedly on behalf of the state to the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries for the hurt they endured and for any stigma they suffered as a result of the time they spent in the laundries.

“People living in Direct Provision have had to flee the country through no fault of their own. None of them came to Ireland to be warehoused in a Direct Provision Centre and live in state sponsored poverty where they are denied the right to work and earn a living,” Mr Mfaco said.

“In several years’ time, the Irish state will be apologising to asylum seekers for the conditions they put them in as they did with the women in the Magdalene Laundries,” he added.

Earlier this week, Irish Deputy Premier Simon Coveney said people calling for an end to the direct provision system “are not living in the real world”.

Mr Coveney defended the system and said the centres are “significantly better in terms of standard than many other countries”.

“People calling for an end to direct provision as if somehow we can magic over 7,000 people out of direct provision and into their own homes overnight; that is just not living in the real world,” he told the Foreign Affairs committee.

Mr Mfaco said the it is concerning that a senior Government minister has stated there is no alternative to Direct Provision.

“I find it appalling that he would say that and how ignorant he could be to the plight of people living in Direct Provision. It shows us how out of touch he and his Government are,” he said.

“The Department of Justice and Equality must phase out Direct Provision and integrate asylum seekers into the community as per the recommendation by the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection.

“The excuse that there are no alternatives when the Irish government is spending as much as 100 euro per day for each asylum seeker living in hotels around the country is nonsensical.

“Particularly when you consider that the government has spent over one billion euro on Direct Provision enriching corporations, hotels, and landlords at the expense of taxpayers and asylum seekers,” he said.

PA

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