Amnesty launching asylum seekers campaign

Posted on: 8th September, 2014

Category: News

Contributor: West Cork People

The Clonakilty Group of Amnesty International will play its part in a campaign to improve the lot of asylum seekers in this country with a petition signing in the Clonakilty market on Friday, September 19. Under the scheme known as ‘Direct Provision’, asylum seekers are accommodated in 34 centres throughout the country. The system was set up to provide them with food and a roof over their heads, during the six months it was assumed it would take to process their applications for refugee status. The reality has proved very different says Joy Larkcom.

There are currently over 4000 asylum seekers in the centres, the average waiting time is about three years, but considerable numbers have been in the system for over seven and up to 10 years.

The effect on family life is almost impossible to imagine. The conditions are often crowded, with small families in a single room, or even sharing with others. Privacy is limited. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work; Ireland being the only EU country, which denies them the right to work after six months in the country. Some are highly qualified, but have to rely on the weekly allowance of €19.10 for an adult and €9.60 for a child, which leaves little scope for leading ‘normal life’. They are unable to cook for themselves. Children go to local schools, but are not entitled to free third level education. At this stage they are treated as ‘overseas students’ so face fees of €10,000 or upwards. They are not entitled to regular social welfare. On top of these restrictions, they live with the constant uncertainty of their fate, and the very real fear of not being granted refugee status and being deported at short notice.

While this is a national issue — Ireland has been criticised by a UN committee for the operation of its direct provision system — it is also a local issue. Approximately 100 people live in ‘The Lodge’ in Clonakilty, some for over seven years.  Clonakilty residents may have noticed the green and colourful shoots, which have recently appeared in the Friends Community Garden, on a plot of land opposite the Lodge. John Loughnan, former mayor of Clonakilty who has played a key role in establishing the garden, feels very strongly that with the current system, the refugees lead lives with no purpose and cannot fulfill their human potential. Thinking of all the Irish who have emigrated, he says “It is not Christian to allow this to happen: it is our duty to get involved”.

One reason for the intolerable length of time spent in Direct Provision is the complex process of applying for asylum. It was recently described in the Irish Times as ‘a labyrinthe system of appeal and review mechanism’. Welcome news is that the newly appointed Minister of Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD has recently announced the appointment a working group to review the claims procedure for asylum seekers.

To ensure this leads to a positive outcome, Amnesty International are calling on the Irish Government to, without delay, establish single procedure for assessing asylum claims; to ensure that conditions in the centre are an appropriate environment for families and children and to establish an independent complaints procedure for those in the centres.

The Clonakilty Amnesty group is inviting members of the Lodge community, the Mayor and the Mayor Council, to support the launch of its petition on September 19, and it is hoped that many members of the public will strengthen the case by becoming involved.

For further information contact Chairperson Sue Higgins, 023 8845056. 

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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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The Vikings were an important presence in Ireland for over two centuries. As well as inflicting great terror they were also responsible for introducing urbanism and new economic systems to the country.

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