How can I help end Direct Provision?
By lobbying your politicians you can help support refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland
Direct Provision is a system used in Ireland since 2000 to provide accommodation and basic welfare to asylum seekers. Direct Provision centres are also known as ‘reception centres’. They were originally designed as a short-term solution to provide accommodation for up to six months to people while they waited for a decision on their asylum applications.
There are currently 35 centres in Ireland, seven are state owned and the other 28 are run for-profit by private contractors. There are more than 5,400 asylum seekers living in Direct Provision centres across Ireland, including approximately 1,500 children.
For more information on Direct Provision click here.
How can I support people living in Direct Provision?
If you would like to support asylum seekers living in Direct Provision in Ireland lobbying your politicians is way to try and create positive change. Lobbying is how ordinary people and interest groups convince politicians to take action, support new policies, or change the law.
People often associate lobbying with huge, powerful corporations, but it’s also an essential way of making sure those in power understand the wants and needs of the people who elect them.
Lobbying can be as simple as sending an email to your local councillors, or as involved as a long-term campaign to influence national government. Everyone can lobby, no matter what your age or experience, and while it might sound intimidating, lobbying in Ireland is a lot easier to do than in most other countries.
Lobbying against Direct Provision
If you would like to lobby your politicians on Direct Provision the first step to take is to become as informed on the matter as possible. Websites like Doras Luimní, MASI, NASC and the Irish Refugee Council are a great source of information on the system of Direct Provision and the living situations of the people in Direct Provision. Look for information such as how much profit is being made and how being in Direct Provision impacts on people’s lives.
When you feel you have enough of an understanding on the topic to begin to lobby, prepare by having examples ready that you can use to highlight why you feel passionately about ending or changing Direct Provision. Be prepared to state your case clearly and know what you are asking for.
Questions you might ask yourself before lobbying a politician:
- Do you want the Government to end Direct Provision and if so what do you suggest as an alternative?
- Do you want it to be not for profit?
- Do you want them to shorten the wait times people are in the system and improve the conditions in the centres?
- Do you want people to be given full access to social welfare and live in the community?
Getting in touch with a politician
The second step when lobbying a politician is to get in touch with them. Sending a letter or email to a politician is a great place to begin.It’s a good idea to lobby both your local TDs and the Ministers of the Government departments responsible for the policies on Direct Provision. By lobbying your local TDs you can ask them to highlight the importance of the issue and to raise the matter in the Dáil.
The Ministers who head the government departments that oversee policies on refugees and asylum seekers are:
- Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan
- Minister of State for Equality, Immigration, and Integration, David Stanton
Lobbying these Ministers directly means you are raising the issue with those with the most influence over policy.
What if nothing seems to be happening after lobbying?
Don’t be too disheartened if your lobbying doesn’t pay off. Changing minds takes time, especially on bigger issues, and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to convince everyone to see things the way you do. Even the most successful and popular ideas in history were new and untried at one point. What matters is standing up for what you believe in and doing your best to make positive change.
How else can I support people in Direct Provision?
Outside of lobby, there are a few other things you can do to show your support to people living in Direct Provision
Get involved in a campaign
You can also support those in Direct Provision by getting involved with a campaign in your area, like the #righttowork campaign being organised by MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland).
Join a community group
There are plenty of community groups that work directly in local centres providing supports for asylum seekers in those areas, so you could get involved with one of those groups if you are living near a centre.
Be an ally
Probably the most important thing you can do is be an “ally” to those in the asylum process. Reach out to people living in the system to help them to feel more welcome in Ireland. Identify actions or activities you could do collectively with asylum seekers,instead of to doing things “for” asylum seekers without involving them or finding out what they want. By engaging with asylum seekers directly you can help them to be involved and you can follow their lead on what you can do to help them.
For more information on lobbying politicians click now.