Photo credit: Caroline Reid | A protest in Athlone against the Direct Provision system.
Jimmy Billings and Aidan Rowe give us the background to the UCD Against Direct Provision Campaign.
Introduced on 10 April 2000 as a temporary emergency measure, the system of ‘Direct Provision and Dispersal’ is 15 years old last month. In this time, it is estimated that the Department of Justice (via the Reception and Integration Agency, RIA) has paid out almost 800 million euros to private companies.
These companies effectively profit from the indefinite detention and suffering of asylum seekers and from what has been widely condemned as an inhumane system.
As asylum seeker activists have pointed out, the system of Direct Provision is part of a global asylum detention industry. Most accommodation centres are owned and managed by private businesses; others are government-owned, with management outsourced to profit-making companies such as Aramark, a global corporation with big stakes in the detention industry.
Aramark Ireland Holdings Ltd is contracted by the Irish State to manage three direct provision centres: Kinsale Road in Cork, Lisseywollen in Athlone, and Knockalisheen in Limerick. The company has been fiercely criticised by people in the best position to know how it operates on the ground. Asylum seekers in Lisseywollen and Kinsale Road protested against the direct provision system last autumn and cited Aramark as a key issue.
Aramark Ireland Holdings Ltd also has lucrative catering contracts with several third level institutions in Ireland, including University College Dublin. The implication of the university with the much-criticised Direct Provision system, through its connections with Aramark, is symptomatic of the hijacking of academia for governmental ends. Exercising the vital right to academic freedom, we are organising a joint student-staff campaign in UCD to add our voices to grassroots campaigns to end Direct Provision and to respond to Aramark’s presence on our campus. We hope that our organising on campus in UCD will encourage students and staff in other universities to get involved in university campaigns to end DP and to end our educational institutions’ complicity with the corporations that profit from the asylum and deportation industries.
Want to join the campaign? Find out more about organising against direct provision in UCD by contacting [email protected]