'When your life is at risk, you have to choose' - Asylum seekers on coming to Ireland

As the new Government commits to abolishing direct provision, Newstalk is examining the much-deba...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.55 7 Jul 2020

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'When your life is at risk, yo...

'When your life is at risk, you have to choose' - Asylum seekers on coming to Ireland

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.55 7 Jul 2020

Share this article

As the new Government commits to abolishing direct provision, Newstalk is examining the much-debated system.

Ahead of an independent report into the scheme, reporter Barry Whyte spoke to asylum seekers from Albania and Zimbabwe who are living in direct provision.

One woman said: "I'm from Albania originally, and I came here with my husband at first - we had to leave because of the political issues and things like that, the life was getting worse.


"I left my family behind, it's not easy, but when your life is at risk you have to choose one way - so we had to leave.

"It was difficult, political issues, there are always difficult and messed up, you know.

"My husband's life was threatened and we had to decide something.

"And at that time I found out I was pregnant, so I couldn't raise my child there."

"Actually we didn't choose Ireland, we first chose Iceland - we were in Iceland before coming here.

"And there we claimed asylum, but unfortunately there they didn't accept us.

"Then we had to find another country, and the best one we thought it was Ireland.

"And so we came here in Ireland - at the airport they understood we were illegal.

"So they asked 'why are you here?', 'we are here for asylum' we said.

"They were very helpful, very kind, so everything was OK".

"We stayed [in the airport] about two hours, let's say, we had to fill [out] some forms, they asked why are you here for, so we had to say the reason, if they could accept us.

"We had to give our fingerprints and we have to tell about our story.

Another person explained: "I'm from Zimbabwe, I left my country for political reasons, I was forced to leave I couldn't go back there".

"My life was in danger at the time... it's more because of gender and things like that."

"My mom was here, she came after me - it was difficult".

"I left Zimbabwe and then went to South Africa, and then from South Africa I came straight here to Ireland.

"I came in with an agent, so they organise a fake passport and then I had to come all the way here.

"And you have to get rid of that passport".

"They will say they want a specific amount of money and you get that money together.

"And then from there on you just pay them, and they'll just fix whatever they want to fix, and then they'll make a plan for you to get all the way to a country."

However he says he did present at Immigration on arrival in Dublin.

"You have to present yourself to immigration - they say that's the best way than sort of coming here illegally.

"They ask a lot of questions, they ask you where you're from, they ask you if you know anyone here in Ireland.

"Unfortunately when I came here, I didn't know anyone in Ireland".

Another woman said: "I was 14-years-old when I left my country; I had some personal issue.

"And we decided to leave, so now I have five and a half years out of my country before I lived in France with family - my family is still in France - and I came here with my partner because he has an issue with a blood feud in Albania."

Asked why she chose to come to Ireland, she said: "My partner has his brother here for 10 years, so it was better for him to be close to his family".

A white paper on replacing direct provision will be drafted by the end of the year, the Minister for Integration Roderic O'Gorman has said.

He said: "Within the Programme for Government the approach to this is through drafting a white paper, which will be drafted by the end of this year.

"The report of the Day Commission will feed into that and will influence that white paper.

"What the white paper will do is: a) give us the vision of what the new system for accommodating people who are in the international protection process here in Ireland will look like, but will also show us how we move to that particular model".

It comes after a report, prepared by Dr Catherine Day, suggested sweeping changes to the existing direct provision system.

An expert group recommended extending the right to work to asylum seekers, and the exploration of alternative housing models.

The document also advocated clear guidance to ensure all applicants can open bank accounts, reducing the amount of time taken to process positive decisions and ensuring binding standards for centres are applied and enforced by January 2021.

It also recommended compulsory training and regular networking for centre managers, and moving away from the use of emergency accommodation.

The group also suggested working with the Department of Transport towards access to driving licenses.

A briefing note was sent to all TDs and Senators last month.

Main image: Immigration Control at Dublin Airport's Terminal 1 is seen in 2014. Picture by: Mark Stedman/

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