Belfast Telegraph

Leo Varadkar accused of ‘not caring’ about asylum seekers living in direct provision

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) said people who come to Ireland to claim asylum ‘do not choose to live in State sponsored poverty’.

A general view of the Mosney direct provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)
A general view of the Mosney direct provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aine McMahon, PA

Leo Varadkar has been accused of lacking compassion for asylum seekers living in the the direct provision system.

Earlier this month, Irish premier Leo Varadkar said the direct provision system was “not compulsory” and that those in the system “can leave at any time”.

“Direct provision is something that we offer asylum seekers. It’s not compulsory. You can leave at any time. We now allow asylum seekers to work so, actually, many do work and leave and provide for their own accommodation.

“Many also live with friends and family so direct provision is something that we offer people. It’s accommodation. It’s food and board. It’s spending money as well. It’s not that it’s compulsory,” he told RTE radio.

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Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

There are about 1,400 asylum seekers living in emergency accommodation and the figure is rising, an Oireachtas Justice Committee heard on Wednesday.

Bulelani Mfaco of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) said people who come to Ireland to claim asylum “do not choose to live in State sponsored poverty”.

“The comments reflects a Taoiseach that turns a blind eye to the plight of many people living in direct provision,” said Mr Mfaco.

“When he says people are being provided with services that are optional, he is talking nonsense.

“It shows he lacks compassion for anybody that is less fortunate than he is in this country.

“He does not have a firm grasp or does not care about the plight of people living in direct provision,” he said.

“People have committed suicide in direct provision,” he said, citing a case in Kildare.

Protests have taken place recently in Oughterard Co Galway over some local people’s concerns about the Connemara Gateway Hotel becoming a direct provision centre.

The group called Oughterard Says No To Inhumane Direct Provision Centres, is planning another silent march this Saturday.

Mr Mfaco said people living in Oughterard have nothing to fear from a direct provision centre opening in their town.

“When we hear people say don’t open one because we are terrified… terrified of what? It is not aliens that landed from the moon that are going to be put in that direct provision Centre. It is human beings. What are you terrified about? What is so scary?” he said.

PA

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