Poverty & Inequality

Time to Act: Implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process

on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality

PdfIconTime to Act: Implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process

Eugene Quinn

Introduction

The Statement of Government Priorities 2014–2016, which was issued by the Fine Gael and Labour Party Coalition Government in July 2014, included a commitment to ‘treat asylum seekers with the humanity and respect that they deserve ... [and] reduce the length of time the applicant spends in the system ...’.1  

This commitment came against a background where the Irish system of Direct Provision for asylum seekers was featuring regularly in the media, with reports from around the country of protests, enforced transfers, hunger strikes and calls for the closure of accommodation centres. The growing concern about the Direct Provision system was encapsulated in a comment by the then Minister of State with special responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, who said: ‘None of us can stand over it, it’s just not acceptable’.2 

In mid-September 2014, a roundtable consultation was held by the government ministers with responsibility for the operation of the asylum and immigration systems in Ireland to hear the concerns and analyses of NGOs working in the area. Subsequently, in October, the Government established a Working Group which was asked to undertake the first comprehensive review of the protection process, including the Direct Provision system introduced in 2000, and report back to Government with recommendations.3

The EU Refugee and Migrant Crisis: A Shared Responsibility

on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

PdfIconThe EU Refugee and Migrant Crisis: A Shared Responsibility

David Moriarty

Introduction 

We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. (Pope Francis)1

During 2015, over one million migrants and asylum seekers risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe boats in an attempt to enter the territory of the European Union. For many, though, this hazardous journey led not to the possibility of a new life in a place of safety and opportunity but tragically to their death: over 3,700 men, women and children, including in some cases several members of the same family, died by drowning while attempting to cross into Europe.  

Asylum and immigration systems categorise people seeking entry from other states as ‘asylum seekers’, ‘refugees’, ‘forced migrants’, ‘economic migrants’. Yet it is important to remember that first and foremost these are people – people who share the same human condition that we do, who share the same hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. Behind the numbers and statistics are people with names and faces. 

Our Common Humanity: Human Rights and Refugee Protection

on Tuesday, 26 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

PdfIconOur Common Humanity: Human Rights and Refugee Protection

Colin Harvey

Contexts

The global refugee crisis is raising profound questions about the status and effectiveness of protection regimes at all levels. It should also prompt reflection on the present international order and why, despite the plea of ‘never again’, we still witness human rights violations on massive scales. 

The world remains a structurally unequal place, where social injustice is rampant, and individuals and communities are routinely forced to flee their homes. However small it may now feel, the interdependent world we inhabit is not the welcoming place we might expect. Recognition of our common humanity increasingly runs parallel with exclusion, deterrence and deflection. For many, but not all, the world is a much more tightly regulated space, where states determine the contours of movement on a highly instrumental basis. The lives of individuals and communities become secondary to strategic games lacking in mercy and compassion. The plight of the forcibly displaced therefore presents a distinctive set of challenges: to deliver justice to the ‘stranger’ in need and to struggle for justice and peace in our world.  

Pope Francis continues to place great emphasis on refugee protection, and his work has generated a renewed focus on the social doctrine of the Church. Through word and deed, he demonstrates an openness to the humanity of the refugee. This is reflective of a long-standing practical engagement within the Catholic tradition of respect for the human rights of the forcibly displaced, and an embrace of an inclusive concept of ‘refugee’.1 Underpinning this perspective is a strong alignment with many pressing concerns of the modern human rights movement. At its heart is enduring respect for the dignity of the human person, and a conscious negation of all forms of domination and oppression that deny our inherent dignity. The demand is to experience the person first, as someone in need of our support and help. 

Decent Work: Implications for Equality and Social Justice

on Sunday, 11 December 2016. Posted in Issue 79 Justice in the Global Economy, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

James Wickham

pdfDecent Work: Implications for Equality and Social Justice

Introduction
The idea that any job is better than no job is increasingly debatable, and the assumptions that have guided employment policy for decades no longer hold.

There is not much point in wanting to return to a golden past of straightforwardly good jobs, perhaps in the 1960s and 1970s, because they never existed. However, while in many ways work has got better, there has been a crucial deterioration in other aspects of work. Firstly, the very types of jobs that are being created are now part of a process of growing inequality. Secondly, much employment is insecure and precarious, and this means that many of the reasons why employment was seen as desirable are simply not valid anymore.

Forced Migration: A Challenge for European Solidarity

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Issue 74 Issues for the New EU Parliament?, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

migrationA boat carrying African asylum seekers and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Italy. © UNHCR/L. BoldriniThe carnage of asylum seekers and migrants making the perilous journey to a better life makes frequent headlines; thousands die every year in the Mediterranean alone. Far too little is done to mitigate the risks such migrants face. Poverty, vulnerability and war are rife in our times, but compassion is in short supply.1

Unemployment and the European Union

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Issue 74 Issues for the New EU Parliament?, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

unemploymentSpain's unemployment at hightest level since 1960s © iStockIntroductionIn 2013, unemployment in Germany, at 5.3 per cent, was at its lowest level since reunification. In the same year, Spain’s unemployment rate, 26.4 per cent, was at its highest level since at least the 1960s, before which reliable statistics are more difficult to come by. Austrian unemployment is also low at 4.9 per cent, and though Ireland’s nearest neighbour, the UK, has unemployment of 7.6 per cent this is simply on a par with previous recessions, such as during the early to mid 1990s.1

The Meaning of Dublin's Great Lockout 1913

on Friday, 14 March 2014. Posted in Issue 73 The Rights of Workers – Then and Now, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

Brendan Mac Partlin SJ

lockout-web
Food parcel docket, 1913.
Courtesy of B. MacPartlin SJ

Every person has a right to purposeful activity and a living income. The people of central Dublin were deprived of these rights when they were locked out of work with little or no income for four months in 1913. In remembering this tragic event I will try to situate it in a context of labour relations. Although the past is a foreign country, the core issues of the dispute remain and are being played out at a global level. The exclusion of the people of central Dublin in 1913 is a case that might throw light on the exclusion of vast numbers of people in today’s world and suggest pathways towards sustainable relations.

What Next for Social Enterprise in Ireland?

on Friday, 14 March 2014. Posted in Issue 73 The Rights of Workers – Then and Now, Poverty & Inequality, Economics

 Gerard Doyle and Tanya Lalor

Introduction

AlternativeEnerg

Wind and solar enegy farm.       © iStock Photo

Since the 1990s, the concept of ‘social enterprise’ has gained momentum throughout Europe as a mechanism of addressing unmet community needs,1 providing employment, and stimulating local economic activity. Social enterprises have their origins in the co-operative and self-help sectors, and often strive to ensure local communities have a degree of economic self-determination. Social enterprises are part of the ‘social economy’ or the ‘third sector’ which includes an array of community and voluntary organisations. Some social enterprises are involved primarily in trading or enterprise activity, bringing a product or service to a market, but differing from a private enterprise in that any profit accruing is directed to the benefit of the community.

Lives on Hold: Living Long-Term in Direct Provision Accommodation

on Thursday, 18 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions, Poverty & Inequality

Canteen in direct provision centre © D. Speirs

Canteen in direct provision centre
© D. Speirs

Direct Provision

Prior to 2000, people seeking asylum in Ireland were able to avail of mainstream social welfare payments, such as supplementary welfare allowance and rent supplement; in other words, they were assessed for entitlement along the same criteria as people already resident in the country. However, in the late 1990s the arrival of record numbers of people seeking the protection of the Irish State led to a change in policy in relation to the provision of accommodation and income for applicants during the processing of their claim. The result was the introduction of a system of ‘direct provision’.

Breaking the Silence on Racism

on Thursday, 18 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions, Poverty & Inequality

Refusing to see racism © iStock
Refusing to see racism  © iStock

Introduction

Racism is a persistent and increasing problem in the European Union and it is a problem from which Ireland is not exempt. Racist incidents are an everyday occurrence in Ireland, but this is a reality that remains invisible to most of the population.

As a State, we have not yet developed the means to adequately deal with the issue. Racism is a violation of human rights and also a barrier to integration – it is clear that attempts to integrate or participate fully in Irish society will never be completely successful as long as racism persists.

Still Homeless

on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble, Poverty & Inequality, Housing Policy

Introduction
It was to have been the year of hope for homeless people. By the beginning of 2011, we should have been entering a new phase in the provision of services for those who are, for whatever reason, out of home. This was to have been the case, because the end of 2010 had been set as the target date for achieving two highly significant developments in relation to services for homeless people – one was the elimination of the need for any person to sleep rough, and the other was the elimination of the need for any person to remain long-term (that is, for more than six months) in an emergency homeless facility. Both these developments had been set out as key objectives in The Way Home, the five-year official strategy on homelessness, published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in 2008.1

 

Social Vulnerability in a Divided Housing System

on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble, Poverty & Inequality, Housing Policy

Introduction
Ireland’s economic crisis and the central problems in the housing system that played a large part in precipitating that crisis should make it clear that there is an urgent need for new ways of thinking about housing. The model that became dominant during the economic boom was one of market idolatry and the relentless commodification of housing, such that it became primarily an investment vehicle for realising exchange values, often from no productive activity whatsoever.