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'I don’t know how to be happy': Asylum seekers speak out about their experiences in Ireland

A new documentary marks the first time a camera crew has gained access to a Direct Provision Centre.

Image: TV3

IN A DOCUMENTARY due to air tonight, TV3 will explore Ireland’s much-criticised Direct Provision (DP) system.

For The Irish Asylum Seeker Scandal, the station gained access to a DP centre in Mosney, Co. Meath – the first time any camera crew has been inside one of the facilities.

More than 4,500 people currently live in 34 DP centres nationally.

The system is supposed to deal with asylum seekers within six months of their arrival, but many have been living in centres for up to 10 years because of delays in processing their applications for refugee status.

The Department of Justice recently confirmed that the Government spent €1.27 billion on asylum seekers between 2005 and 2009.

During the documentary, residents in DP centres claim to have experienced violence, abuse and propositions to earn money from prostitution.

Kobe, a woman from Nigeria, is one of the asylum seekers interviewed in the programme. She came to Ireland nine years ago and has an 11-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son – both of whom grew up in a DP centre. The whole family now lives in one room in Knocklaisheen House, Co Limerick.

Speaking about her experience in Ireland, Kobe said:

I don’t know how to be happy, you know that word happiness? I don’t even know it. It’s so sad that my children are at the receiving end you know. I said to my social worker the last time I saw her, ‘I just want to stop crying, how do you stop crying? I just want to be happy’ but you know it’s just so hard, when I see the kids growing up.

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Kobe added that she finds it difficult to fill her days.

“You wake up … it’s just the same old thing every day. When the children go to school, I love working, I clean my house, I move the bed around and I do that until they come home from school and like that, the day just every day, nothing to do.”

The Irish Asylum Seeker Scandal will air on TV3 today at 10pm.

Opinion: ‘Direct provision’ is a holding pen where people are kept for efficient deportation

Read: Direct Provision ‘increases distress and vulnerability’ of sexually-abused migrants

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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