Friday 14th August 2020

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) is appalled by the conduct of the Department of Justice who have dedicated civil servants monitoring our tweets. Earlier this year, we learned that the department of justice directed its Transparency Unit to review social media tweets. This came after MASI sent a tweet about an asylum seeker who was found dead in a hotel procured by the Department of Justice to warehouse asylum seekers. The Deputy Secretary General in the department wrote to MASI asking us to delete the tweet as the family had not been notified. We refused to delete the tweet as the information shared did not identify the deceased asylum seeker. Before this, in a briefing organised by the department of justice for civil society groups, the Deputy Secretary General raised “concerns” about MASI tweets as the department has an audience they perhaps do not wish to see the horrendous experiences of asylum seekers in Direct Provision. We informed the department that we will not be told by them how to do our advocacy work. We will tweet whatever we feel like tweeting.

What is most appalling is that public resources are being misused in the middle of a pandemic. Irish taxpayers and asylum seekers would be better served by the department addressing its disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers. Some of the people the department is spying on are asylum seekers who have spent years in the abhorrent system of Direct Provision. MASI takes great exception to the language used in the reports with words such as “alleged” and “purported” in reference to pictures and quotes shared in our social media platforms. They are real experiences of asylum seekers. The department of justice should spend less time monitoring tweets and devote their time to getting asylum seekers out of Direct Provision if Ireland is to suppress Covid-19. We committed ourselves to putting the spotlight on the horrendous experiences asylum seekers go through in Direct Provision. We will continue doing that until freedom, dignity and justice is attained by all asylum seekers in the State.


Further detail:
These documents were released by the Department of Justice and Equality to Sian Cowman under Freedom of Information and detail how the department has been monitoring opposition to Direct Provision by recording tweets from activists, asylum seekers, lawyers, journalists, politicians and ordinary people.


Media Enquiries:
Bulelani Mfaco: +353 89 474 2911