Statement on the announcement of additional Direct Provision beds to help with Covid19

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is deeply troubled by the announcement made by the Department of Justice and Equality on the procurement of additional beds for asylum seekers, without providing detailed information on how these beds will be allocated to asylum seekers. This is troubling for MASI because we wrote to Minister Charlie Flanagan on the 20th March 2020 urging him to take action to protect asylum seekers living in Direct Provision. MASI received a disturbing response from the Minister which among other things said:

The assessment is that dedicated Direct Provision centres are safer environments than emergency accommodation and therefore international protection applicants have recently been transferred from emergency  accommodation to dedicated centres in Tullamore, Rosslare Harbour, and Cahersiveen.”

That is troubling because opening of new Direct Provision centres that have the same congregated settings where asylum seekers share intimate living spaces such as bedrooms, communal bathrooms, and dining areas, often in large numbers, is not actually helping asylum seekers comply with all the HSE guidelines on Covid19, something that is contrary to the claims by the Department of Justice and Equality that they are guided by the HSE. MASI has already received complaints from asylum seekers who are forced to share a bedroom that is actually suitable for 1 person in Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry. More alarming was the new Direct Provision centre in Ennis where 7 asylum seeking men were forced to share a bedroom that would suit 1 person.

The letter sent to MASI by the Minister and the statement issued by Minister Charlie Flanagan and Minister David Stanton does not give assurances that ALL asylum seekers will be assisted to observe appropriate social distancing as per HSE advice. For this to happen, the Department of Justice and Equality would have to remove elderly asylum seekers, healthcare workers, asylum seekers with underlying health conditions from Direct Provision. And ensure that no one in Direct Provision is forced to share intimate living spaces with strangers, particularly when some work in essential services. The Department of Justice and Equality rejected MASI’s call for the provision of single rooms and self contained units for families.

 A mother living in Direct Provision recently tested positive for Covid19 and was told to self isolate with her child. She shared a communal kitchen with other asylum seekers in the centre and this made it impossible to properly self isolate. Asylum seeking parents have also been asked by the Department of Justice and Equality to nominate an alternative caregiver in the event that they are hospitalised. This has caused a lot of distress among lone parents in Direct Provision who do not know anyone that would be in a position to look after their children. This is particularly worrying for asylum seeking parents with underlying health conditions and no one to nominate as an alternative caregiver.

 And we recently learned that one of our members, a refugee man who works in a nursing home, has to go back to a Direct Provision centre after work, share a bedroom with other men, and make use of other communal spaces that are shared by all the asylum seekers in the overcrowded Direct Provision centre. This is not only hazardous for residents in the Direct Provision centre but could have devastating consequences for vulnerable people in the nursing home he works in.

This is an appeal to the Irish government to act with a sense of urgency and protect ALL asylum seekers. Moving asylum seekers from Clayton Hotel or other emergency accommodation centres to a Direct Provision centre where they are still forced to share intimate living spaces is not the protection required in dealing with Covid19. Today, asylum seekers in Aramark managed Knockalisheen Direct Provision centre that has been opened for the past 19 years, still share intimate living spaces. This is the same with men sleeping in crammed rooms in Glenvera Direct Provision centre in Cork and in Direct Provision centres across the country. Yet Minister Charlie Flanagan tells MASI that this is safe. A continuation of this is not beneficial for anyone except for operators of Direct Provision centres who continue to line their pockets as they are paid for each person hence they put many people in a tiny room, including the use of bunk beds. 

ENDS

About MASI – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is a grassroots organisation based in Ireland. We are people who are or have been in the asylum and direct provision system in Ireland, working and advocating together for justice, freedom and dignity for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Our focus is on the Right to Education and the Right to Work for all people seeking asylum, on the complete abolition of direct provision and an end to deportations.

Media Enquiries: Bulelani Mfaco –  +353 89 474 2911

www.masi.ie

Email: info@masi.ie

Twitter: @MASI_ASYLUM

Statement on the Irish government’s response to COVID-19 in Direct Provision

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is appalled by the discriminatory response to the Covid19 pandemic in Direct Provision. On the 20th March 2020, MASI asked members of the public to email Minister Charlie Flanagan with a simple ask: protect asylum seekers in Direct Provision by ensuring that they are able observe all the Health Service Executive guidelines on social distancing and self isolation, particularly for asylum seekers 60 years of age or older, people with pre-existing health conditions, and asylum seekers in shared and crammed bedrooms, and other congregated gatherings such as canteens during meal times.

This is because asylum seekers around the country are following news and updates from the Health Service Executive on what measures they can take to protect themselves and people around them from the Covid19 pandemic. The guidelines were also posted on notice boards in Direct Provision centres and efforts were made to translate them into some foreign languages. However, the HSE posters on social distancing are useless to an asylum seeker sharing a tiny bedroom with a stranger or as many as 7 other strangers, having to use communal bathrooms and congregate in a canteen for meals 3 times a day. MASI was not surprised to learn that an asylum seeker in a hostel styled Direct Provision centre contracted the virus. We are pleased to hear that he is doing well.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is concerned about the wellbeing of asylum seekers in Direct Provision. The Department of Justice and Equality has refused to ensure that asylum seekers in Direct Provision are able to observe social distancing despite knowing that the asylum seeker who tested positive for Covid19 shared a bedroom with 2 other men. The government has effectively abandoned asylum seekers and left them at the mercy of greedy operators of Direct Provision centres. A situation that has led to massive disparities in the way each centre is responding to the Covid19 pandemic. Some centres have ceased all congregating in canteens at meal times while others continue as normal with the addition of Covid19 notices on the walls. Asylum seekers are still sharing bedrooms, an untenable situation, more so for those who work in healthcare sector.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) offers lessons for the Department of Justice and Equality.  DRHE was able to source self contained units for homeless people while the Department of Justice and Equality rejected MASI’s call for same measures for asylum seekers in Direct Provision. This highlights the fact that the Department of Justice and Equality should not be providing accommodation. That responsibility has to be taken away from them entirely. At present, Irish people are told to observe social distancing in a bid to halt the spread of Covid19. Asylum seekers are deliberately placed in a situation where such social distancing is impossible to observe. An asylum seeker who responded to the news that the Department of Justice and Equality is not going to provide self contained units so that asylum seekers can observe HSE guidelines on stopping the spread of Covid19 said “Aye! Can they line us up and shoot us all in Direct Provision and emergency accommodation, it’ll really be quicker and less messy for all of us.” This perfectly sums up the level of anxiety being experienced by asylum seekers who have little to no control over their lives.

This is further exacerbated by the disgraceful and discriminatory decision taken by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to exclude asylum seekers from the Covid19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment after they lost their jobs as a result of Covid19 while living in Direct Provision. This further entrenches the poverty asylum seekers are forced to endure for years on end while waiting for decisions. Some can barely afford to buy hand sanitisers. MASI calls on all elected representatives, including the caretaker government, to take appropriate steps to protect asylum seekers and reverse the cruel decisions that have been taken by the Department of Justice and Equality, and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection which effectively endanger all of us as they make it harder to curb the spread of Covid19.

ENDS

About MASI – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is a grassroots organisation based in Ireland. We are people who are or have been in the asylum and direct provision system in Ireland, working and advocating together for justice, freedom and dignity for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Our focus is on the Right to Education and the Right to Work for all people seeking asylum, on the complete abolition of direct provision and an end to deportations.

Media Enquiries: Bulelani Mfaco –  +353 89 474 2911

www.masi.ie

Email: info@masi.ie

Twitter: @MASI_ASYLUM

Crammed room in Travelodge, Swords (Emergency Direct Provision centre).
The Central Hostel, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare.
Room shared by 7 asylum seeking men in Clare Lodge Direct Provision centre, Ennis, Co Clare

Press Statement: Spike in Deportation Orders

MASI – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is alarmed by the spike in calls from people who have been issued with a deportation order after spending years in the abhorrent system of Direct Provision. Asif has spent 5 years living in appalling conditions in Mount Trenchard Direct Provision centre. The Department of Justice and Equality ruined his life for 5 years while in Mount Trenchard Direct Provision centre only to serve him with a deportation order instead of providing psychological support. David and Fortunate Nesengani have been in Athlone Direct Provision centre since 2016 and have now been served with a deportation order. Malik and Abdul have spent 4 years living in a Direct Provision centre in Longford before they were served with a deportation order. Such actions demonstrate the cruelty that is deeply entrenched in the Irish asylum system where the Irish government keeps people in appalling conditions for years only to chuck them out in the end.

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Statement on appalling conditions in the East End Hotel in Portarlington

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MASI condemns the use of apartheid in Ardee [press release 21/10/19]

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”Towards a more humane asylum process” – Keynote Speech by Bulelani Mfaco

Saturday 5th October 2019, MASI Conference, Liberty Hall, Dublin

”I have had the pleasure of travelling around Ireland, talking to different people; Irish, ethnic minority, and asylum seeking people.

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MASI Conference great success

Written by Lucky Khambule on 7th October 2019

Today I’m off work to recover, recharge and reflect on what just happened this Saturday. On what message did many people said by just showing up at this grassroots event. I must say #Masiconference was just of a kind, the reaction and the comments from many people that are used to different kinds of conferences, this one just turned out to be exactly what we thought it would be.

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MASI Conference Sat 5 Oct ’19 – Towards A More Humane Asylum Process

WHERE: Liberty Hall, Dublin
WHEN: Saturday 5th October, Day Conference 11am -5.30pm; MASI Party 7.30pm -10.30pm
TICKETS: Day Conference – 10 euro; MASI Party – 10 euro; Conference & Party – 15 euro

Tickets: http://tiny.cc/oho3cz

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Submisson to Justice & Equality Joint Committee

Submisson to Justice & Equality Joint Commitee

27th May 2019

Executive Summary

MASI is the collective Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, a platform for asylum seekers to join together in unity and purpose. As a group of people directly affected by the system of direct provision and as people who are currently undergoing the international protection application process, we, unlike experts and NGOs, are uniquely placed to offer direction to the Committee on Justice and Equality on these issues.

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Attacks on Direct Provision centres: Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland & Anti-Racism Network Joint Statement

MASI and ARN come together to strongly condemn those responsible for what appears to be a deliberate arson attack on the Shannon Key West Hotel which took place on January 10th in Rooskey, Co. Leitrim. This hotel was due to open as a Direct Provision centre having been contracted by the Reception and Integration Agency of the Department of Justice and Equality.  The intention was for it to house 80 people who are seeking asylum in Ireland.

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A successful end-of-year fundraiser!

We had a blast of a night just before Christmas at theWorkman’s Bar at our end of the year fund raising gig.

Wonderful performances from the musicians like DJ Don Rosco, Kaleidoscope collective (They live in Mosney DP centre) they are absolutely brilliant, we also were blessed to have Yankari band, great guys, finally our own MASI DJ Leslie Goldfinger, wonderful play brother. We were also blessed to have the great Clara Rose Thornton doing her spoken word and MC for the night.
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Inside Ireland’s Direct Provision: A slice of bread and the bureaucracy

A mother in Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre was refused a slice of bread for her sick child. The child had been recovering and at 1AM, he wanted something to eat. The mother called a friend to walk her to the reception area to ask for a slice of bread. Aramark staff told her that they received instructions from management not to give residents anything outside meal times. A few hours before the mother went through this, an adult male resident was refused milk and coffee by the same Aramark staff. The Direct Provision centre, like all others without self-catering facilities, has meal times displayed on the notice boards. Continue reading

Looking back on the 10 days lockout in Cork (2014)

Asylum seekers mount protest at Cork direct provision centre

Barry Roche – Irish Times – Tuesday 16th September 2014

Up to 300 residents of a direct provision centre for asylum seekers in Cork yesterday mounted a protest at the system of direct provision. Residents at the Kinsale Road Reception and Accommodation Centre on the outskirts of Cork city began the protest at 5am yesterday and blocked staff from gaining entry to the premises. “Some of the people here have been in the Kinsale Road Centre for eight and nine years and they are calling for the ending of the direct provision system once and for all,” said Joe Moore of Anti-Deportation Ireland, which is supporting the action. The protest comes just a day after Minister of State at the Department of Justice Aodhán Ó Ríordáin criticised the way that direct provision centres for asylum seekers are being operated.

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Inside Ireland’s Direct Provision: LGBT+ lives matters

The Irish government recently published Statutory Instrument 230 of 2018 which regulates reception conditions for asylum seekers. The regulations also provide for how the State will treat vulnerable persons in the asylum process. Continue reading

MASI Statement 27.07.2018: Roadblocks on the Right to Work

Last month, the government opted into the EU Reception Conditions Directive, which among other things allows for a limited right to work for people seeking asylum. Prior to this, Ireland was one of only two EU states that imposed a total ban on access to work for asylum seekers. The opt-in was in response to a Supreme Court ruling in May of last year that found the total and indefinite ban to be unconstitutional.

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Inside Ireland’s Direct provision: by Bulelani Mfaco

Did the Supreme Court fail to protect asylum seekers or is the government failing in its redress?

A man from Burma who had spent 8 years in Direct Provision was offered a job while awaiting a decision on his application for International Protection. He could not take up the employment because asylum seekers were barred from seeking work and working while their application is being processed. The application process can be very lengthy. Sometimes it becomes necessary to restart the process. And he did that several times before being granted
protection.

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Permission to access the labour market

International protection applicants can apply for a permission to access the labour market. You can apply for this permission from 2 July 2018.

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Watergate Residents Resisting Eviction

Residents in Watergate Apartments in Dublin 8 are facing eviction this Friday the 22nd of September by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of the Department of Justice.

A number of residents of Watergate House direct provision centre are facing eviction Friday the 22nd of September. They have formed the Watergate House Residents Committee and have the following demands:

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Direct Provision in Ireland: The Holding Pen for Asylum Seekers | By John Grayson

In the first of a series, asylum campaigner John Grayson examines the Direct Provision (DP) system for asylum seekers in Ireland. Part-two will examine the private companies involved in providing services under DP. (Original piece posted here)

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Statement by MASI-Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland on weekly allowance increase for asylum seekers in direct provision:

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.

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Oireachtas A/V room presentation: Direct Provision and the International Protection Act, Tues 21st, 6-6.30pm

The introduction last month of a new asylum application procedure has created chaos for thousands of people living in Direct Provision. This Tuesday 21st March, MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland), ARN (Anti-Racism Network), with supporters Wendy Lyon (immigration solicitor) and Donal O’Kelly (playwright) will describe the impact of this new procedure and other aspects of the new International Protection Act. Continue reading

Dáil Q&A with Minister for Justice and Equality

QUESTION NOS:  86, 88, 89 & 102

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald) by Deputy Catherine Connolly

Thursday, 23rd February, 2017. Continue reading

Letter to: Irish Refugee Council, Nasc, Doras Luimni, Jesuit Refugee Service, Crosscare, Migration Rights Centre Ireland, Cori, Immigrant Council of Ireland, ENAR

URGENT APPEAL TO ASYLUM SEEKER SUPPORT & ADVOCACY NGOS RE. INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION APPLICATION DEADLINE CLARIFICATION & EXTENSION Continue reading

Campaigners call on Minister Frances Fitzgerald to issue urgent clarification and extension of deadline for shambolic new asylum seeker application system.

PRESS RELEASE

Controversial legislation which was guillotined through the Dail by Minister Frances Fitzgerald in December 2015 is this weekend causing extreme distress and confusion for hundreds of people caught within Ireland’s notorious direct provision system. Continue reading

Procurement and Management of Contracts for Direct Provision

6.1 International and European law provides for the granting of international protection to those who cannot return to their country of origin because they have a well-founded fear of persecution or are at risk of being ill treated or subjected to other serious harm. Individuals who apply for international protection and are awaiting a decision on that application are referred to as asylum seekers. Continue reading

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