Donal McKendry, United Against Racism
Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the US has united people around the world in their outrage and disgust at the appalling treatment of refugees, visitors, migrants and, in some cases, US green card holders who have built a life in the US over many years.
US citizens have rightly come out in their thousands to protest Trump’s discriminatory policies. People all over the world are showing solidarity with Muslims, refugees and US protestors, but we must be also mindful of the institutionally racists policies that exist in our own countries, even in Ireland.
Ireland’s responsibility and the Direct Provision System
Ireland’s welcome to refugees and asylum seekers is, unfortunately, not a shining example humanity and care. The new US president has arranged the temporary detention and refusal of entry to people coming from 7 majority Muslim countries. Ireland currently warehouses more than 4,500 refugees and asylum seekers against their will in profit-making Direct Provision centres all over the country where the residents have no to access to 3rd level education or employment. They are restricted to a weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult and €15.60 per child.
Think for a moment about how you would spend that if that’s all you had?
Direct provision is ‘killing our souls’
Some of the asylum seekers are in Direct Provision System for more than 10 years.
Direct Provision is a stain on Irish society – it directly contravenes the spirit of céad mile fáilte. It condemns asylum seekers and their children fleeing desperate situations to extreme poverty, to discrimination and isolation. It is deeply racist.
Mental health and well-being is a constant concern. The facilities in accommodation centres are at best designed to serve for a very short time but people are living in these conditions for many years. Depression and mental health issues among asylum seekers in DPS are up to five times higher than in the wider community.
Former judge Bryan McMahon called for an immediate, once-off amnesty to any asylum seeker in the system for more than five years, as a ‘gesture of generosity in the spirit of the 1916 celebrations’ (8). But the talks to form the current Fine Gael lead government excluded any move on DPS and even the most limited changes for addressing the issues facing asylum seekers were dropped from the program for government
How can we help?
Join the march in Dublin on March 18th on UN Anti-Racism Day. Millions will be marching around the world demanding their governments welcome refugees and give them and other minorities equitable treatment when they arrive.
Sign up to our email list, come to our monthly meetings or become a full member of UNITED AGAINST RACISM. You can join online.
United Against Racism has put forward a motion with the hope to get broad support from the TDs to debate it in the Dáil and vote to abolish the Direct Provision System. Contact your TDs and ask them to support the motion.
Sign our online petition “End Direct Provision System”
Share information about the direct provision on social media using the hash tags #EndDP and #RefugeesWelcome.
Trump’s rhetoric and behaviour should alert us to the deep-seeded racist policies of our own governments, even here in Ireland.
The best answer Ireland can give to Trump’s vile racism is to welcome refugees and end the Direct Provision System by giving asylum seeker the right to work, the right education and right to residency.