Working group on direct provision

Sir, – The terms of reference for the working group on direct provision were recently published ("Working group announced to examine direct provision ", October 14th). These were announced following eight weeks of protest by asylum seekers against the inhumane conditions in which they are forced to live. These protests cannot be dismissed as isolated incidents. Twenty per cent of all direct provision centres in the country have now protested against both local conditions and the system itself. Thanks to their courageous public stand, the truth about life in direct provision has been widely broadcast across the national media.

Despite the widespread public revulsion against the “open prison” that is direct provision, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has seen fit to dismiss these concerns. The terms of reference make the objectives of this working group very clear. Direct provision will remain in place. Any suggestions for improvement will be governed by “cost efficiency”, continued ghettoisation and deterrence. The testimony of asylum seekers will continue to be ignored.

The inclusion of just one former asylum seeker among the 12 NGO representatives cannot conceal the fact that no current asylum seekers will be party to these deliberations. The Department of Justice may gesture towards treating asylum seekers with “respect and dignity”, but it is hard to imagine a greater indignity than constantly being spoken about and for. This working group further silences and marginalises asylum seekers who have to live with the damage that this system has inflicted upon them.

This week, Anti-Deportation Ireland (ADI) issued a statement calling on NGOs on the working group to resign their seats so that asylum seekers chosen by residents in direct provision can take their place. We support ADI’s call. It is wholly unacceptable that a group discussing the present and future conditions of asylum seekers should so disdainfully exclude them. People who are suffering in this system are the ones best placed to speak to its inadequacies.


While those NGOs taking part no doubt do so in good faith, the terms of reference make it clear that this is a cosmetic exercise. The restriction of the working group to considering only limited reform to direct provision is unacceptable. As the scandalous history of institutionalisation in this country demonstrates, there can be no reforming a system of institutional living such as direct provision. As many of the NGOs involved in the working group themselves agree, it must be abolished.

Once this working group has done the Minister’s work, there will be little room for further negotiation in the lifetime of this government. The working group as it is currently constituted will do nothing to alleviate the conditions that asylum seekers endure. Given this, we call on NGO representatives to insist that asylum seekers take their place at the table. – Yours, etc,

1 Dr Jody Allen Randolph, University College Dublin (research fellow)

2 Paddy Anderson, Cork Institute of Technology

3 Dr Kate Antosik-Parsons, University College Dublin

4 Professor Margot Backus, University of Texas at Austin

5 Dr Rebecca Barr, NUI Galway

6 Dr Claire Bracken, Union College, New York

7 Professor John , University College Dublin

8 Dr Patrick Bresnihan, Maynooth University

9 Harry Browne Dublin Institute of Technology

10 Dr Audrey Bryan, St Patrick’s College, DCU

11 Dr Mick Byrne, Maynooth University

12 Dr Susan Cahill, Concordia University, Montreal

13 Dr Nick Chisholm, University College Cork

14 Professor Danielle Clarke, University College Dublin

15 Professor Mary Clayton, University College Dublin

16 Dr Lucy Collins, University College Dublin

17 Dr Denis Condon, Maynooth University

18 Professor Claire Connolly, University College Cork

19 Dr Íde Corley, Maynooth University

20 Professor Patricia Coughlan, University College Cork (retired)

21 Dr Veronica Crosbie, DCU

22 Dr. Eamonn Crudden, Dundalk Institute of Technology

23 Professor Nick Daly, UCD

24 Dr Sharae Deckard, UCD

25 Professor Alex Davis, UCC

26 Claire Dorrity, UCC

27 Dr Dara Downey, UCC

28 Dr Mel Duffy DCU

29 Dr Mairead Enright. University of Kent

30 Dr Alice Feldman, UCD

31 Professor Harry Ferguson, University of Nottingham

32 Dr Eluska Fernández, UCC

33 Mike Fitzgibbon, UCC

34 Dr Roddy Flynn, DCU

35 Dr Oona Frawley, Maynooth University

36 Dr. Kathy Glavanis-Grantham, UCC (retired)

37 Dr Luz Mar Gonzalez-Arías, University of Oviedo

38 Dr Breda Gray, University of Limerick

39 Dr Rosarii Griffin, UCC

40 Dr Jane Grogan, UCD

41 Dr Clare Hayes-Brady, UCD

42 Dr Valerie Heffernan. Maynooth University

43 Eileen Hogan, UCC

44 Dr Jones Irwin, St Patrick’s College, DCU

45 Dr Kylie Jarrett. Maynooth University

46 Dr Anne Sofia Karhio, University of Bergen, Norway

47 Andre Kenneally. UCC

48 Dr Seán Kennedy, St Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

49 Dr Sinéad Kennedy, Maynooth University

50 Gregor Kerr, Chair District 14 Irish National Teachers Organisation (personal capacity)

51 Dr Nicholas Kiersey. Ohio University

52 Dr Karl Kitching. UCC

53 Dr Carmen Kuhling, University of Limerick

54 Zoe Lawlor, University of Limerick

55 Dr Stefanie Lehner, Queen’s University Belfast

56 Professor Ronit Lentin. Trinity College Dublin (retired)

57 Brian McMahon, Cork Institute of Technology

58 Professor Kathleen Lynch, UCD

59 Dr Mary McAuliffe, UCD

60 Dr Sandra McAvoy, UCC

61 Dr Piaras MacEinrí, UCC

62 Professor Mairtin Mac an Ghaill, UCC

63 Dr Caroline Magennis, University of Salford

64 Dr Frances McCormack, NUI Galway

65 Professor Lucy McDiarmaid. Montclair State University

66 Dr Charlotte McIvor, NUI Galway

67 Dr Sarah McKibben, University of Notre Dame

68 Dr Rosie Meade, UCC

69 Professor Gerardine Meaney, UCD

70 Dr. Naomi Millner, University of Bristol

71 Dermod Moore, Chair, Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy

72 Dr Katie Moylan, University of Leicester

73 Dr Anne Mulhall, UCD

74 Dr Orla Murphy, UCC

75 Dr Diane Nititham, National Louis University

76 Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill, UCC

77 Dr Anne O’Brien, Maynooth University

78 Dr Cian O’Callaghan, Maynooth University

79 Dr Aileen O’Carroll, Maynooth University

80 Dr Angela O’Connell, UCC

81 Dr Brendan O’Connell, TCD

82 Dr Paul O’Connell, School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS)

83 Dr Jenny O’Connor, Waterford Institute of Technology

84 Dr Maureen O’Connor, UCC

85 Dr Tom O’Connor, Cork Institute of Technology

86 Órla O’Donovan, UCC

87 Dr Clíona Ó Gallchóir, UCC

88 Dr Clare O’Halloran, UCC

89 Dr Margaret O’Keeffe, Cork Institute of Technology

90 Dr Theresa O’Keefe, Maynooth University

91 Dr Eleanor O’Leary, Maynooth University

92 Rory O’Neill, Dublin Institute of Technology

93 Dr Stephen O’Neill, Maynooth University

94 Dr Jacqui O Riordan, UCC

95 Dr Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin, Cork Institute of Technology

96 Jane Maeve O’ Sullivan, UCC

97 Dr Tina O’Toole, University of Limerick

98 Dr Maria Parsons, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology

99 Dr Niamh Pattwell, UCD

100 Dr Emilie Pine, UCD

101 Dr Deirdre Quinn. Maynooth University

102 Dr Emma Radley, UCD

103 Dr Stephanie Rains, Maynooth University

104 Professor Maureen T. Reddy, Rhode Island College

105 Sinéad Redmond, Maynooth University

106 Dr Irina Ruppo Malone, NUI Galway

107 Dr Eugenia Siapera, DCU

108 Tracey Skillington, UCC

109 Ailbhe Smyth, UCD (Retired)

110 Tom Stokes, Stillorgan College of further Education (Retired)

111 Dr Moynagh Sullivan, Maynooth University

112 Dr Teodora Todorova, University of Nottingham

113 Stephen Thornhill, UCC

114 Dr Gavan Titley, Maynooth University

115 Anwen Tormey, University of Chicago

116 Dr Jason Toynbee, Open University

117 Professor Amal Treacher Kabesh, University of Nottingham

118 Mark Tyndall Maynooth University

119 Professor Joe Valente, State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo

120 Dr Angela Veale, University College Cork

121 Dr Illan Wall, University of Warwick

122 Dr Karen Wells, Birkbeck College, London

123 Dr Allen White, University College Cork