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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

Ireland treats children seeking asylum as 'second class citizens'

The Special Rapporteur on Child Protection today made comparisons between asylum centres and mother and baby homes and asked why we’re not right outraged now, when it’s happening.

Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

We do outrage very well but we are we not outraged about an issue that currently needs fixing in our system?

SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon, has criticised the country for failing to recognise that a scandal on the scale of mother and baby homes is happening right now to children living in asylum seeker accommodation nationwide.

Speaking at an event in Dublin this evening to mark World Refugee Day, Shannon said that as a nation, “we have the capacity to wilfully blind ourselves” to the atrocities being perpetrated in the country every day. He said we should ask ourselves how could we allow this system of direct provision accommodation to continue.

“We are in a situation where we treat children in direct provision as being second class citizens,” he commented.

One third of people living in the 34 direct provision centres across the country are children. Only three of these centres were built with asylum seekers in mind.

Shannon described the situation as “institutionalised poverty” with adults living on €19.10 a week and children given €9.60 a week. Many child asylum seekers have been sent here alone while some are born into the direct provision life and that is all they have ever known.

Parents are often forced to share a small room with as many as four children while single parents sometimes have to sleep with their children in a room with other adults.

IMG_0187 Source: Michelle Hennessy/

“Children and vulnerable women are destined to a life of poverty – sometimes in the most formative years of a child’s life,” Shannon said this evening.

He referenced a court case in Northern Ireland last year in which a judge ruled that a Sudanese family should not be sent back to the Republic’s direct provision system because it was contrary to the best interests of the children.

He said people in this country “should have been outraged” that a first world neighbouring country did not think it in the best interests of children to send them back here.

Shame on us.

Read: From GSOC to asylum seekers, what are Ireland’s human rights failings?>

Read: Politicians are not allowed to talk to people seeking asylum in Ireland>

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