Human toll of asylum process queried


THE WORLDWIDE leader of the Jesuit Order has expressed his concerns over the long-term institutional effects of the asylum process in this country.

Fr Adolfe Nicolas made his comments in Limerick yesterday on his first visit to Ireland since taking up office early last year.

Speaking at the launch of the annual report of the Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland (JRS), the father general, who spent many years in Toyko, said having lived “in an area where many migrants also lived I came to know very deeply their concerns and troubles”. He acknowledged the welcoming nature of Irish people, which he says he has experienced himself, but shares the concerns of the JRS about some of the issues facing refugees here.

“The length of the asylum process and the policy of direct provision and dispersal have significant human costs.

“JRS Ireland raises concerns about the long-term institutional effects of this approach which in many cases can destroy an individual’s self-confidence and lead to social isolation.”

Fr Nicolas also said that, while Ireland had gone through rapid economic and cultural transition, integration posed questions about how all the people residing in Ireland might live together peacefully and how Ireland could embrace the challenge of diversity.

Eugene Quinn, director of JRS Ireland, who also spoke at yesterday’s launch, said in times of economic downturn the call to reach out to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants became more challenging.

“Upholding the right to seek and enjoy asylum involves committing scarce resources to people who are not ‘our own’. I am very grateful that the Society of Jesus in its recent general congregation reaffirmed its commitment to attending to the needs of migrants, including refugees, internally displaced and trafficked people.”

During his visit to Limerick yesterday, Fr Nicolas also visited Crescent College in Dooradoyle to mark the school’s 150 years in education. Today he will meet Jesuits and their work colleagues in Gonzaga College, Dublin.

He will also spend time there with pupils of the school, recently returned from volunteer work with Jesuit mission projects in Zambia. He will celebrate 11am Mass in St Francis Xavier Church, Gardiner Street, tomorrow before travelling to Belfast to meet Jesuit communities in the North.

Since his election to the lifetime job, Fr Nicolas has visited Jesuits in many parts of the world and says he is optimistic about the future of the church and of his own order. The founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius Loyola, had the vision of a God found “in all things”, particularly among those overlooked by society.