USI statement on Direct Provision among tweets monitored by Department of Justice

MASI has revealed documents that show the Department of Justice monitoring online criticism of the system

Records from the Department of Justice monitoring social media discussion of Direct Provision include a statement issued by the Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) in April.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland (MASI) have published documents showing Department of Justice reports monitoring media coverage and social media activity related to Direct Provision which record the amount of traction that posts attracted on social media platforms.

Among the tweets and statements included in the report is a statement from USI calling for vacant student accommodation to be used to support vulnerable students in Direct Provision. 

In the statement, which was released on April 17, USI recognised that the closure of campuses and the stay-home guidelines had been “extremely difficult on students” who live in “cramped or overcrowded situations and do not have the space to study”, and welcomed plans to provide students in Direct Provision with student accommodation.

The statement then urged the Department of Justice and Equality to provide this accommodation to students at a “highly subsidised rate” or free of charge, “depending on the circumstances of the students involved”.

In the department’s report of the release of the statement, it recorded: “The release

states that USI Equality and Citizenship Vice-President Megan Reilly welcomed news that the Department of Justice and Equality has written to university presidents urging them to provide alternative accommodation for students in Direct Provision.”

The report continued that the statement had “received some attention online with USI sharing it on their Twitter account”. 

The report noted that the tweet sharing the statement was retweeted 6 times and liked 9 times.

The Department of Justice’s report also recorded a University Times article that reported on the USI’s statement. The report recorded that the article on the University Times’ Twitter account received 4 likes. 

The department’s reports that were released by MASI during the week include details about tweets criticising Direct Provision from 23 March 2020 to 29 June 2020. 

Officials have been monitoring the criticism of Direct Provision by celebrities, politicians, asylum seekers and members of the public who criticise Direct Provision on social media.

The reports are recorded on a daily basis and include hundreds of tweets relating to Direct Provision. 

MASI, Christy Moore, Hozier, Roderic O’Gorman – the new Minister of Children, Equality and Integration whose department is taking on responsibility for Direct Provision – and the Irish Refugee Council, have all had comments against Direct Provision recorded and included in the Department of Justice’s reports.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.