Activists, The State and Inequality Part 6 The Direct Provision system

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The following story has been submitted anonymously to protect the identity of the survivor and their loved ones. 

My life in Direct Provision is like I am a prisoner where by you have restricted rules and cannot move on with life …..I left Africa because I was abused and thought Ireland could protect and make my life better. But instead it hasn’t. I am just stuck and that made me always think about the abuse and trauma and all the doors that were closed for us – not allowed to go to school or do anything that will help you after being out of DP.

We were counted everyday like inmates, the food we were given made me sick at one point – but who cared if you complain they transfer you to another Hostel … unfortunately now my kids have experienced this and this has killed their confidence as they have limits in most of the things and it’s worse at school where they cannot attend outside events as they not allowed and there’s always so many questions that are asked of you and you just won’t have answers to even their friends at school will be asking to me it is very bad all I need is to be given freedom like any other as we are all the same ……I can write a novel as it’s a very long story. I have just tried to appreciate and live with it as they no changes and we don’t have a voice to be heard I just feel pain for my kids worse. I can say firstly about Racism it’s not all Irish people who are like that as I have met a lot who understood our situation mostly who know about DP so they been helpful so much to a point that they can take us out in places just to enjoy ourselves and will always thank and appreciate those people who came into our lives when we needed that mostAbout crime I feel so sad as the crime is being committed by the young generation who still have a brighter future and opportunities  so they choose crime and at the end they will be so much hate to a point that they will be thinking that foreign nations are the ones who does or when we have upgraded yourself for the better they will not be happy but they choose crime instead .I know the Garda and trying their best to stop this and they do a great job as it is not easy at all. I guess I have tried to say a few things.” 

The recipient of the above story didn’t want to be identified in case of any possible backlash involved in telling their story, their story is heartbreaking fleeing violence only to suffer a worse fate while living in Direct provision. I feel very ashamed to live in a country where the Direct Provision exists. 

I also speak to an Activist fighting for the establishment of Direct Provision, Stacy Wrenn (featured in main photo) a student of Trinity College Dublin. 

If you met me five years ago, I’d probably tell you that signing a petition was a groundbreaking political act. I only really got involved in campaigning in my second year of university after visiting the Mosney Direct Provision centre in Co. Meath with the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland [MASI]. 

From then on, I started to get involved in solidarity groups seeking to end direct provision and replace it with a human-rights based approach to asylum – such as Refugee and Migrant Solidarity Ireland [RAMSI] who organize solidarity dinners, music events for musicians in DP, and informational talks with MASI. This began with setting up the inaugural ‘Refugee Week’ in Trinity College Dublin – where the students’ union is mandated to organize events informing students of the rights of refugees and how they can take action to create change. Within a few months building from this momentum, Jessie Dolliver and I co-founding of the Aramark Off Our Campus campaign. We called for a boycott of the catering services on campus that were run by the multinational corporation Aramark because of the poor living conditions in the direct provision centers they manage. Two years of blocking doors, dropping banners and getting harassed by middle management on our social media accounts later, and we won.  

Since then, I’ve begun a Master of Laws program in the Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway, and my activism has taken more of an academic turn. As part of Ireland’s obligations as signatories to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, civil society actors are invited to submit alternative reports to the state’s presentation. I was invited to contribute to the Centre’s submission and attend the official review of Ireland’s record on the matter at the United Nations in Geneva in December 2019, as well as address the Committee personally on the restrictions placed on migrant workers. These types of actions are bureaucratic and alienating, but they result in authoritative recommendations that we, on the ground, can use to hold the Irish government to account, so I think they’re important to engage with.  

My most recent campaign is a collaboration between MASI and the Centre to raise awareness of candidates’ stances on direct provision in the 2020 General Election. After contacting all candidates at the start of the election, we published their official statements online, so all their promises to implement alternatives to direct provision are not forgotten.
 

I’m originally from Limerick, but I moved to Dublin in 2015 to study Near and Middle Eastern Studies in Trinity College Dublin. I’m the first person in my family to go to university [and of course I chose a social sciences degree instead of something ‘practical’]. I’m currently studying for a master’s in law in International Migration and Refugee Law & Policy in the Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway, where I’m interning with the non-profit Global Legal Action Network. I would welcome the introduction of inclusive hate-crime legislation, I’d be wary of embracing it as a catch-all solution to the racism embedded in Irish society. Legislative change is not societal change, we would need a mass anti-racism movement in order to make it effective, as well as a long-overdue inspection of the impact of decades of nationalist rhetoric on our social perceptions’’. 

Its the work of activists like Stacey and the stories told by victims of Direct Provision that will bring about actually change.

Refugees welcome!

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