Asylum centres affecting ability to integrate

BY Caroline Crawford

Asylum seekers forced to spend up to a decade in Direct Provision centres are having difficulty integrating into Irish society as a result, a seminar on asylum seekers will hear today.

A seminar on the current reception and legal framework offered to asylum seekers in Ireland will hear from a number of experts along with people living in the system.

'Moving Forward: Reform and Solutions in the Irish Asylum System' is organised by the SOLAS (Support, Orientation and Learning for Asylum Seekers) Project.

Last September it presented its policy submission to the Cross Departmental Group on Integration at the Department of Justice in which it laid out a number of concerns.


It revealed how long stays in Direct Provision were negatively affecting asylum seekers ability to integrate.

It added asylum seekers are physically segregated from the majority of the community in DIrect Provision Centres, in some cases for up to a decade. During this time they are unable to seek work, the "cornerstone of integration" according to SOLAS.

The group also raised concerns about the financial exclusion facing asylum seekers, who only receive an allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child.

Children in the asylum process including those born in Ireland are precluded from receiving Child Benefit due to their parents status as asylum seekers.

Keynote speakers at the event are Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, and The Honourable Justice Catherine McGuinness, who will discuss best practice in the asylum legal process.

The event will also hear from asylum seekers living in the Eglington and Great Western facilities in Galway and the Old Convent facility in Ballyhaunis.

SOLAS is a pilot project funded under the European Refugee Fund, set up to offer services to asylum seekers in Galway City and County Mayo.

The SOLAS project is a partnership of Croí na Gaillimhe, St Vincent de Paul, Mayo Intercultural Action and the Health Services Executive.

Patricia Luby, SOLAS Coordinator said the purpose of the seminar was two raise awareness of the challenges at a policy/decision making level locally, nationally, and at a European level and as a platform to identify solutions to these issues.

Immigrant Council

Meanwhile a new CEO has been appointed to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Brian Killoran, who has held key posts in the organisation, will succeed Denise Charlton who has held the post for 13 years.

Mr Kiloran said he would concentrate on key challenges including the delivery of the new Sexual Offences Bill, immigration reform and a review of Ireland's hate crime legislation in light of the 51pc increase in racism reports the Council has received in the past year.

Chair of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, John Cunningham said: "The Immigrant Council of Ireland has positioned itself firmly in the frontline of political, media and public debate on issues which impact on migrants and their families and I am confident under Brian's leadership it will continue that role."