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Department of Cruel and Unusual Rules Health Human Rights

Direct Provision – failing the vulnerable, yet again

Will we learn nothing, no matter how many reports are written? The Myth of the Cherished Child in Ireland:

The last number of weeks have seen much hand wringing and pretense of ‘not knowing’ from government, politicians and the public at large to the treatment of mothers and children for many decades in Ireland. The penal institutions of borstals, industrial schools, ‘unmarried mother’ country homes, homes for first unmarried mother ‘offenders’, Magdalenes’, and mental hospitals, were used as a means to (mainly) punish the poor for being poor, to punish women for perceived moral sleights on the country at large and to deal with ‘problematic populations’ in Irish society. Women in the newly independent Ireland were to be disciplined for stepping outside the boundaries of what was deemed respectable Irish republican-catholic values and mores.

Hundreds of single parents and children in mass accommodation centres would of course not happen today, given that these are, as the new Minister for Children noted, yet more ‘dark chapters’ from Ireland’s past.

But (…) the system of direct provision continues to exist. No inquiries to why 1,666 children have been warehoused in direct provision accommodation centres for years on end, no government concerns about the impact that institutionalised living is having on asylum seekers in direct provision, no hand wringing, no understanding, no pity, no interest. This, however, goes beyond government creation and maintenance of the direct provision system. There is no widespread public concern for direct provision, there is no call from the public at large for this system to end, there is little empathy and almost no compassion regarding the rights of mothers, fathers and children in direct provision. As it usually takes a few decades for the public to feign outrage and ignorance of what is well known, then will we have to wait for some sort of inquiry to inform us that direct provision has debilitating effects on all those resident in these ‘accommodation centres’.