Are we a Racist Nation?
There are more people living in “Direct Provision Centres” in this country than in prison! At the start of 2014, the total was 4,360 people. This compares to a prison population of 4,053 in Ireland in February 2014.
In a recent Irish Times article by Dr. Liam Thornton, Law Lecturer in UCD Sutherland School of Law, he stated: ‘That such a system (of direct provision) has been allowed develop over time may be unfortunate, that there is no urgency in reform to direct provision is unforgivable.’ There have been many protests about this direct provision system, but, according to Dr Thornton, there has been little public engagement on the issue.
We have had reports from non-governmental organisations, the Irish Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman for Children, and the Special Rapporteur for Children, on the significant damage direct provision is causing its residents. Each report is either ignored or swept aside by government. Individuals, such as former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuiness and former ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, raised significant concerns regarding direct provision. The Council of Europe, the United Nations and most recently the High Court of Northern Ireland have also made adverse comments on the system of direct provision.
Still, the political system refuses to engage with the significant damage caused by it . How can this be? Who gains in such a situation? Not those who came here hoping to find safety and a new start in life. Not you or I, whose taxes go to support this enforced dependency. So why do we, or the government in our name, preside over a system that is proving so destructive to other humans? The fact that there has been little public engagement in the issue is something that we need to take note of. We are the public. Asylum seekers are fellow human beings. As Christians do we not believe the we, including asylum seekers, are all brothers and sisters? We all have to ask ourselves serious questions about our attitudes to people of other cultures. Are we a racist nation?
“For I was hungry and you gave me food – a stranger and you made me welcome…….” Matt 25