Sir, – I agree with the Taoiseach’s comments: “We don’t need to look across the Atlantic to find racism. We have many examples in our own country.” (News, June 4th).
Direct provision is a profoundly racist system that violates basic human rights. It has a demonstrably negative impact on healthcare outcomes and psychosocial wellbeing.
The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has called for its abolition.
Covid-19 has laid bare our mutual vulnerability.
We are dependent on one other to stay well, and systematic neglect of marginalised communities harms us all.
The aftermath of this pandemic presents us with important choices about how we should function as a society and what our “new normal” might look like.
Valuable things lost will be recovered and rebuilt at speed.
Systems which undermine our values and do harm to our most vulnerable – such as direct provision – must just as decisively be consigned to history. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – Recent events in America have rightly provoked an angry and emotional response in Ireland.
However, I would argue we must carefully select our rhetoric when approaching racism in Ireland, especially regarding direct provision, which is a stain on our national psyche and international reputation.
That being said, I believe it is reasonable to suggest there is some obligation on campaigners to abolish direct provision to begin the debate with regard to plausible alternatives.
Unfortunately the change.org petition to end direct provision currently circulating makes no such suggestions.
Should it be implied that these campaigners would be content with a situation where there was “freedom of movement” into Ireland for everyone who arrives on our shores claiming to be an asylum seeker?
If anything is likely to stoke more racism in Ireland, surely it would be granting all immigrants to Ireland claiming to be asylum seekers immediate access to our labour markets and unrestricted access to our social welfare system?
Merely saying “end direct provision” provides little scope for further productive discourse.
I would respectfully suggest that, instead, saying “improve conditions in direct provision, and accelerate the backlog in our legal system” is a more reasonable basis upon which to begin a conversation about racism in Ireland. – Is mise,