Boycott Aramark group to demonstrate for asylum seekers working rights outside Dáil

The demonstration will take place this Thursday at 1pm outside the Dáil.

Lissywollen Accommodation Centre, Athlone

Trinity’s Boycott Aramark campaign group will join a demonstration outside the Dáil this Thursday, February 8.

The demonstration will take place ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on February 9. The court will make a formal declaration that the complete ban preventing asylum seekers working in Ireland is unconstitutional. This declaration has been deferred twice at the request of the State in May and November 2017.

A spokesperson for the Boycott Aramark campaign, Jessie Dolliver said: “Aramark Off Our Campus will be attending to support the asylum seekers all over Ireland in their struggle for freedom and equal rights. People in the asylum system deserve the same rights as any other human being. This includes the right to meaningful work – people want to support their families and contribute to society. The work that we do is extremely important in forming self-identity, in determining who we are. It is dis-empowering not to have this right.”

The protest is being organised by Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) and supported by Refugee and Migrant Solidarity Ireland (RAMSI) and the Anti-Racism Network (ARN). In the description for the Facebook event, MASI states: “MASI believes that the government is planning to introduce the most restrictive terms it can get away with while spinning this as a sign of their great tolerance and charity towards asylum seekers.”

The group is dissatisfied with the interim measures the Government is pursuing in response to the Court Ruling and the EU Reception Directive the Government is in the process of opting into. A provision in the Directive requires member states to give the right to work to asylum seekers in certain circumstances. MASI criticises the lack of detail the Government has provided and describes the Directive as a “very general directive on the right to work which allows individual states to decide on the details themselves”.

In 2014, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) adopted a long term policy to campaign to abolish direct provision for asylum seekers and to campaign in support of their right to work. Included in this policy is to campaign for the Government to opt into the EU Reception Directive. Trinity’s Aramark Off Our Campus group are lobbying College to end ties with the company Aramark, and are seeking College to secure a contract with an alternative supplier with no links to direct provision. Aramark currently run three direct provision centers across Ireland, and have a contract with Trinity to run Westland Eats. This contract is to terminate in 2019, with an option to extend until 2021.

Last term, TCDSU President Kevin Keane was criticised by the campaign for meeting Aramark representatives without informing the campaign. The campaign had previously refused to meet Aramark officials.

The Aramark Off Our Campus group will demonstrate tomorrow, Wednesday, at Westland Eats in the Hamilton Building for the third time from 12pm to 2pm. The group aim to campaign weekly outside the food caterers.

Ciaran Sunderland

Ciaran Sunderland is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Senior Sophister History student, and former Investigations Editor.