Students protest direct provision and deportations on World Refugee Day

Around 100 people gathered outside Leinster House

In observance of World Refugee Day, Students Against Direct Provision (SADP) organised a protest against direct provision and deportations, which took place outside Leinster House.

Around 100 people gathered outside government buildings for the protest. Organisers said they were campaigning for the abolishment of the direct provision system, as well as the government to end deportations, allow refugees to work without restrictions and the end of “fortress Europe”.

Addressing the protesters, Lucky Khambule, co-founder of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), said: “When you are in direct provision you are taught to be dependent on the State…We need to stop direct provision so people can not be just depending on handouts.”

“All we are asking for is that people are allowed to live with community. People must be given the right to work early not nine months later. Early access to employment and education will lead to people living lives that every human being needs to live,” he said. The government lifted a total ban on asylum seekers working last year, however, some restrictions still apply.

Stacy Wrenn, Trinity student and activist, told Trinity News: “We felt it was important to have a protest on World Refugee Day to provide a counter to the usual talk-centred approach to the day by NGOs….We demand repeal, not reform. We demand a human rights based approach to asylum, not a numbers game. We demand an end to deportations, for people to be treated as such and not cargo.”

“Students should mobilise on these demands in solidarity with all displaced people, in rejection of the divide that the State encourages between our groups. We are stronger together,” she said.

Other groups participating in the protest were Migrants and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ), Anti Racism Network (ARN) Ireland, Say No to Direct Provision in Ireland, Refugee and Migrant Solidarity Ireland (RAMSI) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

Trinity students have been protesting against the direct provision system for several years. In 2014, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) passed a mandate to oppose the direct provision system. The SU also voted to support the Aramark Off Our Campus campaign, which opposed the company’s campus presence due to their connection to direct provision centres.

The Department of Education announced last month that the pilot scheme to offer free college tuition and additional grants to asylum seekers, which has been in operation since 2015, will continue for this academic year.

The scheme was also amended to include a shift from requiring applicants to have spent five years in the Irish school system prior to passing their Leaving Certificate to requiring only three years.

Today’s demonstration follows recent reports regarding a transgender woman who died while being housed in an all-male direct provision centre in Galway and was buried by the State without notice given to her family and friends.

Additional reporting by Aisling Grace 

Jessica Hobbs Pifer

Jessica Hobbs Pifer is a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Fresh Middle Eastern and European Languages and Cultures student.