Thomas Pringle TD

Press Release: Donegal TD Deputy Pringle commends the work of many communities in Ireland in welcoming refugees

Deputy Thomas Pringle honoured the communities in Ireland who recently won an international award from the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative for their commitment to welcoming asylum seekers and helping them to integrate into the local area.

Having been on the welcoming committee for a Direct Provision centre in Donegal Town in the early 2000s, Pringle highlighted that “many residents went on to settle in Donegal and make positive contributions to the community. The best way to counteract hate is for the community to come together and welcome refugees.”

Condemning recent displays of negativity towards the accommodating of refugees, he stated that “protests against the opening of Direct Provision centres which hide their deep-rooted racism behind claims of concern for the well-being of asylum seekers, are a disgrace and it is our duty to call them out. We should not allow the actions of a few small groups to take away from the incredible work being done in many communities.”

Deputy Pringle challenged the Minister about living conditions in Direct Provision, noting that “it is unsuitable for anything other than a short stay. We need credible alternatives.”

“Around 800 people – roughly 12% of residents – have had a decision on their status but cannot leave Direct Provision due to rental prices being at an all-time high.”

“The 1,531 asylum seekers in emergency accommodation – of which 290 are children – are in an even more precarious situation. The Refugee Council has reported food shortages and an inability to access medical cards and the weekly allowance. Some asylum seekers have been moved out suddenly to accommodate weddings in the hotels they are being housed in. Others cannot access liaison services, which are essential for navigating an unknown system.”

Deputy Pringle questioned the Government’s delay in implementing vulnerability assessments of asylum seekers, which we are required to do under our EU obligations. “As of July 2019, not a single person had been identified as vulnerable through a formal vulnerability assessment, despite the fact that the asylum population includes victims of trafficking and torture, people with HIV and people who are suffering from PTSD from living in a war zone.”

“The Government’s ongoing focus on temporary solutions has allowed this already dysfunctional system to grow to the point that it is just not fit for purpose. The Minister must commit to finding sustainable, long-term alternatives to allow asylum seekers the dignity they deserve,” concluded Deputy Pringle.