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President Michael D Higgins in the grounds of Áras an Uachtarain in 2017 during a celebration of the creative arts. Sam Boal
Garden Party

President to host Áras garden party highlighting issues around Direct Provision

Irish organisations that support refugees have been invited to a garden party tomorrow.

CURRENT AND FORMER Direct Provision residents will be welcomed to Áras an Uachtaráin tomorrow as President Michael D Higgins hosts a garden party to highlight the work of Irish organisations that welcome and support refugees. 

Around 450 people are expected to attend the event, which is being organised in conjunction with the Department of Justice and the UN refugee agency. 

Among the attendees will be current asylum seekers who now work with campaigns and organisations to help refugees and those in Direct Provision. Former asylum seekers who also work with organisations in the sector will also attend. 

The President and Sabina Higgins organise themed parties each year. According to a spokesperson for the President they are aimed at “celebrating particular people and organisations who work on themes that the President wants to highlight”. 

In recent months, Higgins has hosted a garden party promoting gender equality and the importance of family. 

Higgins has spoken in support of refugees before. In 2017, he gave out Gaisce awards to a group of young people living in Direct Provision – the first time young people living in Direct Provision had received the award for the personal development programme. 

Speaking at the award ceremony, Higgins praised their “courage and tenacity”.

Answering a question from during last year’s Áras campaign, Higgins said that he believed “that how we welcome and treat those who are displaced is an important reflection on our commitment to human rights”. 

Ireland’s treatment of refugees has become a major source of both national and international criticism.

This month, the Department of Justice and Equality apologised after a woman who died at a Direct Provision centre in August 2018 was buried last year without ceremony or prior notice to friends.

In April, residents living in Mosney Direct Provision centre in Meath staged a protest over their treatment.


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