UL Student Life organised a silent demonstration against the direct provision system to greet An Taoiseach Leo Varadker to the University of Limerick on Thursday morning. An Taoiseach, along with Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, were in UL to launch the first annual report of Project Ireland 2040.
UL Students lined the path of the Taoiseach with posters asking “Is Direct Provision Part of Ireland 2040?” The students wore duct tape on their mouths to symbolise those that live in direct provision’s fear in speaking up in case it would negatively affect their asylum application. Some students held signs showing their solidarity with residents of Mosney direct provision centre in County Meath after an incident last week which saw residents holding their own demonstration calling for management to listen to their “cry for help” around the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers in the centre.
President of UL Student Life, Ciara Jo Hanlon, was part of the greeting party for An Taoiseach and presented him with a letter on behalf of student groups from around the country calling on him to work with advocacy groups in bringing in an alternative reception system for asylum seekers that is both humane and reduces the financial burden on the state
The demonstration follows a number of events and initiatives that have been run all year by UL Students in support of asylum seekers and refugees, and against the direct provision system. Last November, students began a boycott against Aramark and the Aramark-run restaurants on UL campus over their involvement in profiting from the direct provision system and numerous reports of poor treatment of asylum seekers in their 3 centres. The three Student Officers of UL Student Life recently attempted to live on €38.80 for one week to highlight the harsh conditions and restrictions on autonomy of those living in direct provision.
Deputy President and Welfare Officer of UL Student Life, Lorcan O’Donnell, said “The measure of a country should be judged on how it treats its asylum seekers, some of the most vulnerable in our society. Direct Provision has been around for almost 20 years. 20 years of controlling, silencing and dehumanising asylum seekers. We will not stand for another 20 years of this system and today we call on the Taoiseach and on this Government to end the current direct provision system that is inhumane and not fit for purpose.”
President Ciara Jo added “The letter is on behalf of all the 3rd level institutions that form the national “Students Against Direct Provision” alliance. We are calling on Taoiseach Varadkar to look at the way Ireland, a country of a thousand welcomes, is treating it’s asylum seekers and people looking for safety and refuge. We are asking the government to end the system in its current state look at alternative reception systems that treat our asylum seekers with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
The University of Limerick is considered a University of Sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees, offering 15 scholarships each year to residents living in direct provision.