FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lost in Limbo: Ireland’s Asylum Seekers Afraid to Speak Out

by

Dublin.

On 5th of August 2015 the Irish Navy ship LÉ Niamh was sent to help an overcrowded vessel about 25 miles off the Libyan coast.  As two rigid inflatable boats (Ribs) from the LÉ Niamh approached they signaled to the people to stay where they were so that life jackets could be given out. However, according to Capt Dave Barry: “Whatever happened, a number rushed to one side, and it capsized and sank in a couple of minutes”. A total of 367 survivors and 25 bodies were taken to the Sicilian port of Palermo. Up to 700 people were believed to have been on board. It is stories like these that have brought the migrant crisis directly to the doorsteps of the Irish public.

The journey to the Irish shores is far too long for these boats to appear on the Irish horizon but the daily media attention has brought about discussions relating to Irish migrant history of fleeing on ‘coffin ships’ to the U.S. in the 1840s. So many died on these hazardous journeys across the Atlantic, it was said that sharks followed the ships for the bodies thrown overboard.

bluemerge1800web

Blue Skies, Blue Seas, Blue Gloves: Mediterranean Migrants by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin.

Ireland’s Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald stated recently:

“It is important that Ireland join together with our partners to assist in the relocation effort and show solidarity, just as we have on refugee resettlement and in the exemplary work of the Naval Service in search and rescue in the Mediterranean.”

She also said that Ireland has agreed to accept 600 refugees, mainly from Syria and Eritrea, over the next two years.

While such numbers are very low compared to the numbers applying for asylum in Germany, for example, this does not mean that Ireland is isolating itself from international influences. According to the latest Globalization Index by the KOF Swiss Economic Institute (KOF) Ireland is the most globalized country in the world. While Ireland’s open economy and low corporation tax rates account for much of this position, the individual categories put Ireland fifth in the Social Globalization category (size of foreign population, international information flow (access to internet, TV or foreign press) or import and export of books in relation to GDP).

The ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom years (1995-2000) saw a dramatic rise in its migration rate:

“Comparing Ireland to other EU countries underlines its rapid changes. From 1990 to 1994, Ireland was the only Member State with a negative net migration rate (number of migrants per 1,000 inhabitants) according to the EU statistical agency Eurostat. By 2007, Ireland had the third highest migration rate across the 27 EU Member States — 14.5 migrants per 1,000 inhabitants — surpassed only by Spain and Cyprus.”

During that same time ‘the number of persons seeking asylum in Ireland increased dramatically from only 362 in 1994 to a peak of 11,634 in 2002, before falling off in 2003 and down to approximately 3,900 in 2008. […] Between 1992 and 2008, 9,574 non-EU nationals received refugee status. In 2007, the overall refugee recognition rate of asylum applicants at first and appeal stage was 10 percent.’

By 2014 1,444 asylum applications were received by the Department of Justice ‘compared to 946 in 2013 equating to a 53 per cent increase.’

The difficulties for asylum seekers do not end upon arrival in Ireland as ‘asylum seekers do not have the right to work in Ireland while the government is reviewing their applications. If, however, their applications are successful and they are officially recognized as refugees, they acquire full employment and social rights and can eventually naturalize.’

According to a government website, under the policy of Direct Provision, asylum seekers receive:

‘Accommodation on a full-board basis. The cost of all meals, heat, light, laundry, tv, household maintenance, etc. are paid directly by the State. Personal allowances of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 euro per child per week.’

In a major article in the Irish Times last year, entitled ‘Lives in Limbo’, it was noted that ‘many asylum seekers in the State’s direct provision system spend years in conditions which most agree are damaging to the health, welfare and life-chances of those forced to endure them.’

The report went on to state that:

“The State-run Reception and Integration Agency says it ensures the basic needs of all residents are met. But the United Nations and international human rights groups have heavily criticised the system. Former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness has predicted that a future government will end up publicly apologising for damage done by the direct provision system. The voices of asylum seekers are rarely heard. Many are fearful that speaking out will damage their request for refugee status.”

This does not bode well in the current crisis for the new refugees who will be thrown into a lengthy process unless steps are taken to speed up the whole system.

More articles by:

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of paintings based on cityscapes of Dublin, Irish history and geopolitical themes.  His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail