Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland’s (MASI) fundraising event welcomed supporters and asylum seekers from Limerick and beyond to Dolans Pub on Friday, October 5.
The Sounds of Change fundraiser aimed to shine a light on the fundamentally flawed system Ireland has in place to welcome and integrate asylum seekers in Ireland – that system is called Direct Provision.
The eventful night celebrated diversity, culture and community, and guests were treated to some wonderful international performances as well as gripping speeches from Asylum seekers.
Speaking at the event key speaker and founding member of MASI, Lucky Khambule, said: “Our demand is simple; to end direct provision because we believe that it is an inhumane system that aims to dehumanise people and treat people like lesser human beings.”
Lucky’s speech struck a chord with many as he voiced some of the hardships and tribulations that he and all asylum seekers living in Ireland must endure.
Lucky’s honest but uplifting speech left the audience of asylum seekers and supporters alike, in high spirits as they chanted with him.
What do we want?
The right to work!
Amongst those attending the fundraiser was Cllr James Collins, Mayor of Limerick City and County, who seconded the motion in his speech.
“We had a big job announcement in Limerick yesterday and now people are saying: ‘we are announcing so many jobs how are we ever going to find the people to work? ’We’ve got lots of people who want to work we just need to allow them to do so, and a lot of them are here tonight,” Mayor Collins said.
As it stands, since July 2018 asylum seekers in Ireland may be eligible to work, granted they meet very specific, and in their view, unrealistic criteria.
Only international protection applicants who are awaiting the first decision on their application after nine months may be eligible to seek employment.
Most asylum seekers in Ireland, however, don’t gain refugee status after their first application so the ‘right to work’ remains unattainable for the vast majority.
A member of MASI and organiser of Friday night’s successful fundraiser, Susan Quain, fully contests the “idea that they [asylum seekers] come over and want to sit on the dole.”
She argues that roadblocks such as not being allowed to have a bank account or drivers licence and employment restrictions, prevent integration into our society and set an unfair playing field for asylum seekers.
Susan recounts one instance whereby a close friend was arrested outside her home and incarcerated for six weeks due to a deportation order.
“I was absolutely horrified by the way she was treated and how our government and country treat its most vulnerable – it really broke my heart,” Susan recalls.
In light of Ireland’s treatment of international protection applicants, Collins also highlighted how for many years Irish people have been the ones to emigrate out of necessity and Irish politicians have been “championing the rights of the undocumented [Irish]”.
Mayor Collins said it was now high time to practice what we preached, and give asylum seekers in Ireland a “céad míle fáilte.”
The fundraiser which went on until late into the night raised much-needed awareness on the state’s violation against basic human rights and successfully raised €3,365.75 to enable MASI’s continued work in support of asylum seekers.
MASI, which was set up in 2014, is a grassroot organisation ran by asylum seekers for asylum seekers, which advocates the dismantling of Direct Provision and fights for equal treatment and inclusion in Irish society.
Direct Provision – the facts
At present Ireland is home to around 4,500 asylum seekers all of whom reside within Ireland’s 32 Direct provision centres across the country.
Out of 4,500 applicants, 1500 are children.
400 asylum seekers live in Limerick’s Provisional centre and have to live under subpar living conditions including but not limited to:
- Sharing rooms with up to eight people from different backgrounds and nationalities
- Members must eat at set times without the option of cooking for themselves. If a meal is missed you may not have it later.
- You must live off an allowance of €20.61 a week
- Social exclusion due to isolated centre locations
- Being 5 times for likely to suffer from mental and psychiatric conditions