As we close 2021, we reflect on what year has been for many of us, especially those who live in the abhorrent system of direct provision. We had to go through the pandemic the whole year with scary experiences in some centres.
At MASI we continued to provide a crucial support structure for international protection applicants in direct provision. Much of our organising had to move online throughout the pandemic. We held weekly meetings online which improved participation as people did not have to travel from a Direct Provision centre to get to a meeting. Our peer-to-peer support was intensified, particularly in education where asylum seekers were completely left of state supports. With our supporters, we provided hundreds of new laptops to students in Direct Provision and paid tuition fees for some to facilitate access to Third Level Education.
We continued with our collaboration with the Bohemian Football Club and BangBang. Through our sister group Every Child is Your child, we continued to support the back to school campaign making sure that children in Direct Provision have books and uniforms to get back to school.
MASI was honoured by the Bar of Ireland who awarded us the Human Rights Award for advocating for the rights of asylum seekers in Ireland and our role in campaigning for the end of Direct Provision for the past 7 years.
For years we campaigned for very basic things such as allowing asylum seekers to drive and open bank accounts with great resistance from the government. We welcomed the judgement by the high court ruling in favour of the asylum seeker who took the government to court for refusing to issue driving licences to them. This brought more joy and hope to many asylum seekers who have already started the process of getting a driving licence. Banks also announced that they would end years of discrimination and allow asylum seekers to open bank accounts.
We are encouraged by the regularisation schemes announced by the Minister for Justice. Thousands of undocumented people and asylum seekers will see an end to their precarious immigration status and embark on a path to Irish citizenship.
We look to the future with renewed hope that an asylum seeker who lands at an Irish port of entry will be treated much better than the past two decades. Thank you to everyone for the continued support of the work that MASI does.
May we see better days… #HappyNewYear