Could you live on €19.10 a week, Minister?

Coinciding with the International Human Rights Day – 10 December – the Irish Bishops have called for the protection of human rights, and for the upholding of the dignity of the human person, concerning people living in poverty, asylum seekers living in Ireland, other displaced people around the world, and for those subjected to human trafficking. Read their statement here.

In recent months we have witnessed protests in several Direct Provision Centres [housing 4,000 people, including 1,600 children] concerning the conditions people are forced to live in, the invasion of privacy, quality of food and accommodation, not allowed to work etc. The Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, is to establish [in January 2015] a working group to establish to review the State’s Direct Provision system. Why has it taken the Minister so long to do this?

The Minister for State Aodhán O’Riordáin has made several ‘supportive’ statements for change…. but, Minister, pardon the pun, ‘the proof of the pudding…..’.

It is a scandal, following our history with different state / church institutions in the past, that this government continues to drag its feet on addressing the basic human rights of people who have come to our shores seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Minister, could you live on €19.10 a week? This is the amount each adult in such Centres receive each week and €9.60 per child. And these sums were set 14 years ago!

TD’s earn a basic €87,258 a year. According to the journal.ie Ministers of State earn more than €2,339 a week [exclusive of deductions]. That’s 123 times what someone in Direct Provision gets!

Read Cois Tine’s article on Direct Provision Centres.

Former Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness has asked if our treatment of such people will be the subject of an apology by a future government?

The UN Refugee Agency reports that the number of displaced people in the world has passed 50 million for the first time since the Second World War.

Minister, time to stop ‘talking the talk’ and walk the walk!