This week Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald claimed that the inhumane system of Direct Provision is “here to stay.” She said this in spite of the universal recognition that this system is not fit for purpose and seriously violates our human rights. The effects of Direct Provision on those of us experiencing it are long-lasting and multiple: poverty, social exclusion, malnutrition and lack of access to education and developmental opportunities.

Meanwhile the state doesn’t benefit in any meaningful way from this systemic destruction of human lives. The only beneficiaries in this situation are the private companies that run the centres and profit financially from our misery. Minister Fitzgerald clearly believes that their profit margins are worth more than our lives and those of our children.

Our demands are grounded in the principle of equality and dignity; the right to work, the right of our children to build their future through access to Third Level education, the right to participate fully in the social and civic life of the country in which we are resident. These will never be realised as long as the Direct Provision system remains in place. The Government knows this but because they do not view us as fully equal, they are content with the status quo. By their logic, equality, human rights and dignity are just “pull factors.” For these reasons we demand, above all, an end to Direct Provision and stop deportations as they separate and destroy lives.

So in reaction to Minister Fitzgerald’s assertion that Direct Provision is here to say, we – those who are actually affected by it –respond: not if we have anything to say about it.