Via Irish Housing Network
The Irish Housing Network calls on all support this Thursday at 5.30pm outside City Hall as it marks the publication of a report by the Children’s Ombudsman into the rights of the child in Ireland, and highlights the neglect of over 1,600 children currently homeless in Ireland and hundreds of families trapped in Direct Provision.
With almost 1,600 children homeless and many more in direct provision centres, the Network believes that the Government’s inaction and indifference to the housing crisis and the racist care systems in place for children seeking asylum has placed these thousands of children in huge risk and contravenes the development and protection rights of the child as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Irish Housing Network calls on all support this Thursday at City Hall to show solidarity with the thousands of families living in sub-standard and trapped conditions of direct provision and emergency accommodation.
The Irish Housing Network believes that the conditions prevalent in emergency accommodation in Ireland contravene the rights of children and leave many children without equal opportunity to development. Aisling Kelly, a mother of 3 young children who has lived in emergency accommodation in Dublin’s city centre for 8 months has reported that she feels “lucky” to even have basic cooking facilities in her current accommodation. The conditions present in her hostel are similar to those in Catherine’s Gate on Parnell Road, which evicted the Reddington family and their two young children 3 weeks before Christmas over the incomplete payment of an electricity bill. In both Catherine’s Gate and the city centre hostel in which Kelly’s family are currently staying, adults and children alike are not allowed to socialise or talk to any other residents. There are no public areas or play facilities available for children. As Kelly says, when her children all under the age of 8 come home from school there is no option but to stay in their small flat. The family have little to no right of privacy in their apartment, with management entitled to walk in at any time to inspect the rooms. When her family became homeless, Aisling Kelly had to present herself and her family to the Dublin City Council’s Parkgate Street Homeless Services, “We were given a piece of paper and an address and told to go there. We got no information on how long we’d be there and they haven’t contacted us since.” Her family currently spend over €70 a week bringing the children to their school in North County Dublin where the family are originally from. In order to get to the school, the the family must leave before the heating in their complex is turned on. Even though they pay for utilities, the heating is controlled by the staff of the complex and is only turned on between 7.30 am to 10am, and remains off until 7.30pm in the evening until it is switched off at 10pm. In order to adequately heat the apartment, Kelly must bring in separate heating units which are technically banned by management. The family pay rent to Dublin City Council for their emergency accommodation, but as Aisling Kelly says, she does not know who manages the complex and staff are privately employed. The Irish Housing Network believes that this neglect in providing for the most basic play and utility needs of a young family shows that the Irish State is failing to equally provide for its children in homeless services.
The Irish Housing Network also believes that this neglect in care also extends to the many children currently seeking asylum in Ireland and living in direct provision centres. As Anne Mullhall from Anti Racism Network, a member of the Irish Housing Network writes: The government has recently pledged to raise the allowance for children in the Direct Provision system from 9.60 per week by a paltry 6 euro. In doing this, the government is primarily motivated by the need to avoid sanction from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This cynical and wholly inadequate measure will do nothing to alleviate the inhuman and degrading conditions in which 1,600 children are forced to live in the open prisons called Direct Provision. The asylum system tears families apart. Children born in this country and who know no other home live with the reality and the constant threat of deportation of themselves or of family members. In Direct Provision, children experience terrible deprivation, confined with their families to one cramped room for years on end. For many children, this is their only experience of ‘home’. Children ghettoised in DP are subjected to experiences and sights that no child should have to endure. Direct Provision robs children of their basic rights and casts a long shadow over their future. No increase in the derisory Direct Provision Allowance can redress these terrible wrongs that the State continues to perpetrate against children in the asylum system. In solidarity with these children, their families and all those kept in these open centres of detention, Anti Racism Network Ireland (ARN) calls for the end to the system of institutional abuse called Direct Provision.
The Irish Housing Network believes that the State and its institutions has abandoned their responsibility towards the children homeless and seeking asylum in Ireland, and subjected many thousands of families to needless hardship instead of tackling the housing crisis. The Irish Housing Network calls on all support and solidarity tomorrow at 5.30pm as they stand with the many families and children experiencing homelessness, poverty and insecurity.