Irish government accused of breaking EU law by housing asylum seekers in ‘inhumane’ conditions

Photo of a child at the protest of asylum seekers in Ireland holding up a sign that says "Let our voices be heard".
Support us and go ad-free

An NGO has called out the Irish government for its treatment of asylum seekers. The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) said the government is housing asylum seekers in “inhumane” conditions. And it argued that they lack food, proper healthcare, and access to “basic necessities”. It declared that the government is in breach of EU law as a result.

A country-wide problem

In a press release, MASI stated that it travelled around Ireland to various direct provision centres to interview residents. Direct provision is the system by which the Irish government houses asylum seekers. It revealed that it was “appalled by the absence of support for vulnerable asylum seekers”. One member of MASI, Donnah Vuma, said that – at one hotel she visited in Limerick – she met:

an asylum seeking mother with an infant that was just 20 days old and had no nappies or baby formula.

The hotel’s response was that it’s “contracted to provide a bed and 3 meals a day”. MASI declared that it sees this all over the country in direct provision centres ( “emergency accommodation centres”). In a hotel in Bray, for example, MASI stated that residents aren’t allowed visitors.

At another direct provision centre, a curfew of 10pm exists for men. And in one case, MASI said direct provision contractors had given food to asylum seekers which was months out of date.

Lucky Khambule of MASI asserted that:

it is disgraceful that the Irish government is spending a lot of public money on contractors who starve asylum seekers in order to maximise profit.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
Violating EU law

But MASI went further. It said it also believes the Irish government is in breach of EU law. Specifically, it argued that the government is breaching an EU directive on the living conditions of asylum seekers. The directive requires that asylum seekers have access to basic necessities. This includes proper living conditions, access to healthcare, including mental health services, and access to employment.

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) previously criticised the government for not introducing the directive’s orders.

But despite this, the government continues to use direct provision – originally introduced in 1999 as a so-called “emergency measure”. And now, 20 years later, asylum seekers are still suffering because of it.

The government is well aware of what goes in the direct provision system. Multiple organisations have given evidence as to what asylum seekers go through in Ireland. Yet the government continues to house them in a clearly unsuitable and failing system. In some cases, they’ve been waiting nearly ten years to find out if their asylum applications have been successful.

The Irish government must stop treating asylum seekers with inhumanity and indifference. Instead, it must start living up to its legal and ethical obligations. And that begins by scrapping the direct provision system.

Featured image via Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (used with permission)

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us