In the Republic of Ireland, on the day new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took office, what does he do – he goes and endorses the system called Direct Provision by increasing the weekly allowance by €6.00 for children and €2.50 for adults, making the allowance €21.60 for everyone. We reject this increase in the strongest possible terms. We really feel insulted by the newly elected Taoiseach, who seems to have no understanding whatsoever about what we have gone through in direct provision for 17 years. The Taoiseach said that these offensively miniscule increases would give asylum seekers more disposable income – if our situation wasn’t so serious this would be a joke. We were not consulted on this, no one asked us what we needed. We are furious that people think that 2.50 or 6 euro will do anything to address the damage caused to our lives by Direct Provision.

The Taoiseach refers to the McMahon working group report and its recommendations. We are always told that these recommendations are being implemented – when it suits the government. And yet our living conditions in Direct Provision get worse, not better. We would bring it to the attention of Leo, who perhaps has not yet had time to carefully read these recommendations, that the insulting increase his government proposes does not even reach the inadequate increase to €38.74 for adults and €29.80 for children recommended in that report. If the working report as a working report is taken seriously by those that formed it at the first place, why is that its recommendations are not implemented accordingly, despite the claims of the government?

The answer to our problems is not an increase to our allowance, it is allowing us the right to work. We have been living below the poverty line for so long, denied this basic right. Ireland is one of just two countries in the EU with an indefinite ban on the right to work for people seeking asylum. Now we hear that finally, the Taoiseach will look into a right to work – “in certain circumstances”. The government has been forced to do this by the Supreme Court finding that the ban on us seeking work is unconstitutional. Varadkar and his government have been given six months to put their house in order. We will be watching with an eagle eye as they put together their plans and we say now that nothing less than the full right to work for all asylum seekers will do.

We cannot sit back as our lives are destroyed day in day out. This gesture is totally unacceptable, that’s all.

Contact: Lucky Khambule