On Saturday 18th November 2017, Failte Refugees joined United Against Racism as they hosted a National Demonstration to end direct provision. Students from Failte Refugees UCD, Failte Refugees Trinity College Dublin, Amnesty International UCD and Failte Refugees NUI Galway were in attendance.
Hundreds of people from all over the country, marched from the Garden of Remembrance to City Hall, with representatives from over 30 campaign groups, NGOs, trade unions and political parties. Most importantly, the demonstration was attended by a large number of asylum seekers currently living in and experiencing direct provision, from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Limerick and Sligo.
We listening to great speakers, who called for the end of the direct provision system, the need for the right to work for asylum seekers, social protection and access to third-level education.
The direct provision system was established in Ireland in 2000, as a short term solution, to accommodate asylum seekers whilst their refugee applications were being processed. 17 years later, there are currently 5000 asylum seekers, including 1600 children living in 35 centres across the country.
Asylum seekers do not have the right to work, cannot avail of free third-level education and receive just €21.60 per week to live on.
Numerous asylum seekers shared their heartbreaking stories at the demonstration, many speaking of the prison-like environment they are forced to live in, and how it affects every aspect of their lives, from their mental health, to the relationships they have with their children.
Failte Refugees will continue to campaign for an end to direct provision and a better life for refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland.
All photos by Fiadh Melina