- Dail Eireann,
- Leinster House,
- Dublin 2
- Dear Minister Fitzgerald,
- I am writing to you in your new capacity as Minister for Justice and Equality imploring you to address one of our most pressing social issues today, that of the direct provision system. As you will know, this system is now 14 years old, has no statutory basis, and is not fit for purpose. Families are spending years living in single rooms, in cramped, unsanitary conditions with no proper facilities. People in direct provision are not allowed to cook, they must eat whatever they are given, and must adhere to strict mealtimes or miss that meal altogether.
- Children have no proper play facilities and are forced to play in corridors. Parents of babies and toddlers have no option but to heat baby food and bottles in bathroom sinks as they are not allowed access to kitchens. One mother in Galway is has spent the last 6 years in one room with her children, who now range in ages from 4-15 years old. The needs for even the most basic privacy within families are not being met. I have heard children, who have spent most of their lives in direct provision, describe being bullied for living in a hostel, and describe the system they are trapped in as an open prison. These children have committed no crime; they are simply the children of asylum seekers.
- Asylum seekers may not work. They get a weekly payment of €19.10. The state, through its tardiness in processing asylum applications, is forcing people into poverty. There are huge ramifications on mental health, education, and potential for abuse given the mixed ages, sexes and proximity.
- Ireland has a history of debasing the vulnerable by institutionalising them and pretending not to know what is going on. Enda Kenny made a commitment that the likes of the Magdalene laundries would not happen again. And yet, here we are failing a generation of children who we have forced into institutional living because their parents have fled persecution. In 10 or 20 years, some taoiseach will address the Dáil about the scandal of direct provision, and perhaps tearfully apologise to a lost generation. But there can be no claim that we did not know what was happening.
- The system of direct provision needs to be wound up as a matter of urgency. Your department must work with residents and their advocacy groups to come up with a system that allows the basic standard of living that human beings deserve. Asylum seekers here for more than six months must be allowed to work. It is within your purview Minister, to be the one who ended this barbaric, degrading, dehumanising system we have allowed to fester for 14 years, for the entire lifetimes of many of these children. Please initiate this process.
- Yours faithfully,
Direct Provision sample letter
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