The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers and Direct Provision in Ireland
Liam Thornton, “The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers and Direct Provision in Ireland” (2014) 3(2) Irish Community Development Law Journal 22-42.
27 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2015
Date Written: December 10, 2014
The system of direct provision for asylum seekers is 14 years old. Direct provision is where asylum seekers are provided with bed and board, along with a weekly allowance of €19.10 per week per adult or €9.60 per week per child. Asylum seekers are not entitled to any other social welfare payments and cannot seek or enter employment, on pain of criminal sanction. Direct provision, introduced in April 2000, came at a time of considerable moral panic about ‘welfare abuse’ by asylum seekers in Ireland. For over 14 years, this system has existed on an extra-legislative basis and without any in-depth examination, from the Legislature, the Executive or the Judiciary on the impact of direct provision on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of asylum seekers. Hanna Arendt, in The Origins of Totalitarianism noted that the world sees nothing sacred in “the abstract nakedness of being human”. Using Arendt’s views as a starting point, this paper explores Ireland’s legal obligations towards those seeking protection in Ireland. Examining our international, European and domestic obligations, the paper will seek to explore whether the system of direct provision complies with fundamental human rights law and norms. With a judicial review of the totality of the direct provision system currently before the High Court, this paper provides an analysis of how ‘the right to have rights’ for asylum seekers is limited.
Keywords: Human Rights, Immigration, Asylum Law, Cosmopolitanism, European Immigration and Asylum Law, Hannah Arendt, Irish Constitutional Law, Irish Law, Moral Limits of the Criminal Law, Direct Provision, Irish Asylum Law, Irish Administrative Law
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