Sir, - In response to various articles which have appeared in the media about asylum seekers and the "surprise" increase in numbers…

Sir, - In response to various articles which have appeared in the media about asylum seekers and the "surprise" increase in numbers over the past few years:

While Ministers, officials and some NGOs may well claim to be amazed and reeling. this surprise is false.

In June 1994, Rescue Trust wrote: "[we] seek the establishment of a centre in Ireland which would not only be of assistance to our present refugee community, but also to refugees and asylum seekers to come - and [we] should add that we believe that Ireland will (rightly) come under increasing international pressure to allow in many more refugees than we have done to date. The centre would also act as a training unit for NGO & health care personnel, working both in Ireland and internationally, with ongoing and regular education and training updates."

Perhaps it is now time that a full and public inquiry into the realities in Ireland be undertaken. Perhaps it is now time that Government Ministers stopped taking the word of uninformed advisers, officials and others who appear to have an interest in not telling them the truth? Such an inquiry could look at


. the lack of education and training among health professionals in refugee care;

. the non recognition of torture as being a major factor in the lives of many refugees and asylum seekers (witness the responses of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Health and Justice to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs in December 1995 and January 1996);

. The lack of education and training for health professionals in the care and rehabilitation of torture survivors;

. The reasoning of certain Ministers who for years refused to discuss these issues, while uttering statements which were questionable to say the least.

Rescue Trust is prepared to open all its correspondence with Ministers and others over the past three to four years before an independent inquiry committee, and in particular our request to certain Ministers for an explanation of why we received legal threats from a Government agency in an obvious attempt to marginalise and silence us. Shades of what was to develop over Hepatitis C.

And to echo Dr AlSader's concern (June 5th): almost five years after the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, signed the United Nations Convention against Torture, why has this extremely important Convention remained unratified? Yours, etc.


Rescue Trust,

Capel Street,

Dublin 1.

Declan Hughes

Declan Hughes

Declan Hughes, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a playwright, novelist and critic