Since Christmas, asylum seekers are being bussed out of Dublin and placed in B+B and holiday accommodation. The implementation of the policy has been racist and discriminatory in several ways.
Firstly, asylum seekers have not been consulted in any way. They are formed into ad hoc groups made up of people from different countries and transported to holiday accommodation in various towns across Ireland. To date (April) up to 1,500 people have been transported in this way to towns from Tralee in Kerry to Bunbeg in Donegal.
This scheme is not voluntary. There is no element of choice about where they go and, more alarmingly, they are not entitled to any social benefits if they leave, nor are they entitled to rent allowance; effectively they are detained.
Even more worryingly, the government is now establishing 'reception centres' (detention centres!) in several areas around the country. In addition, they have leased a number of 'flotels' (prison ships!) and are preparing to have them moored in ports around the state.
The asylum seekers are entitled to food and accommodation; after this they get £15 per person a week and £7.50 per child. These payments are roughly half what is paid to Irish homeless people (for example a homeless man in Backlane hostel gets £38.50, the Iveagh hostel £33.50 - of course even these payments are woefully inadequate) making them discriminatory. The reduced payments may also be unconstitutional.
The Anti Racism Campaign has been campaigning vigorously on the direct provision issue starting with a well reported press conference before Christmas. Over 90 women's and community groups have responded to ARC's call to publicly oppose the scheme. ARC has had good contact with IMPACT and, as a result of pressure from several branches, Community Welfare Officers are now threatening industrial action. IMPACT and SIPTU have released a strong statement condemning it, especially the unequal payments and threatening not to administer it.
According to IMPACT national secretary Kevin Callinan "this inhuman policy is aimed at discouraging asylum-seekers from coming to Ireland even though we have the resources to face up to our international responsibilities"
It has also been raised at executive level in the ASTI(secondary teachers union). Offivials in MANDATE, the shop workers union, have said that any attempt by the Minister to bring in a food voucher scheme would be opposed by shop workers.
Several local groups have been set up in areas where refugees have been dispersed, including Galway, Westport and Clonakilty. ARC plans an intense media bombardment of local press and radio, a press conference, public meeting and more street activity on this issue as well as assisting local groups where possible. We are also supporting the work of Residents Against Racism who have collected over 3,000 signatures condemning the clear miscarriages of justice in the cases of Belmondo Wantete and Ekundayu Omoniyi.
ARC will be organising further public activities, as well as door-to-door leafletting in the coming months. Further information on these activities can be obtained from either ARC or the WSM.
Conor Mc Loughlin
ARC: Stall every Saturday 11.30am-1.00 pm Bank of Ireland, College Green.
Meetings: Vietnamese Centre, Hardwicke Street (between Parnell Square and Dorset Street), Wednesdays at 8 pmPost: c/o Comhlamh, 10 Upper Camden St., Dublin 2. Phone: 087-2338143 or 087-6996046 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Webpage: http://get.to/arc.dublin
CorkPost: Immigrant Solidarity: PO Box 178, Cork Phone: 088-6911968 E-Mail: email@example.com
Other areas (Monaghan, West Cork, Wexford...)
Phone 087-6996046 for details