Protests by asylum seekers around the country highlighted how asylum seekers in Ireland are treated by the system.
The issue that sparked the August protests was the threat of forced removal of some asylum seekers from the Mosney camp in County Meath. In July, they were given letters which gave five days notice that they were to be transferred. There was no prior warning, no discussion and no involvement of the people themselves regarding where they would be sent. Many of those targeted for removal have lived in Mosney for years, have made friends and have relationships within the community.
The fact it takes so long to assess cases means that people are living in limbo for up to eight years. Many of the asylum seekers compare themselves to prisoners but point out that prisoners have the right to work within the prison system and have the right to education and training, rights that are denied to asylum seekers.
Mosney currently houses about 500 people. They are all on direct provision which means their food and accommodation is provided by the camp, on top of that they receive €19.10 per week for an adult and €9.60 per week for a child.
The former holiday camp is in rural County Meath with no public transport and cannot be accessed by the general public as there are security barriers and security guards. Asylum seekers have reported that some people in the camp are suffering mental health issues, many having arrived in Ireland following traumatic events in their lives. All complain of boredom and want to work and contribute in a positive way to society. Children born in Mosney are now attending school – some have reached secondary level but have no experience of a normal home life. They are expected to eat and sleep according to the regime dictated by the management of the camp.
On 26 August, residents were woken at 6.00am by Department of Justice officials who entered their homes to do what is apparently called a bed check. Many of the residents were undressed or still in bed. The children were absolutely terrified, one young child was going to the toilet when they came in. These tactics are used to terrorise residents and are a violation of people’s rights if it were to happen within any other community it would provoke outrage.
Direct provision to asylum seekers in camps or hostels is a conscious policy by government to keep asylum seekers cut off from the community, this increases their isolation and also prevents integration and ties developing within the wider community which makes their policy on deportations easier to implement. The treatment of asylum seekers is not just an issue for the immigrant community it is an issue for all. One of the placards at the protest read, “we are human beings” which is what the government is trying to obscure.
The Socialist Party stands for the right of people to live wherever they wish. We also call for an immediate amnesty for those people who have been in the system for years and have made a life in Ireland for themselves and their families. Ironically and hypocritically, this is precisely the demand that the Irish government is supporting for Irish people who are illegally resident in the USA!