16 May, 2006

St. Patrick's People

Tough times in St. Patricks. The Dublin Ambulance crew are worried about the men. They say that organ failure can happen as quickly as a heart attack.

The UNHCR says "the significant upsurge in violence in some parts of the country has limited the access to those areas by both international humanitarian actors and Government representatives, denying the population access to entitlements, services and protection." Meanwhile the Department of Foreign Affairs tells us not to visit.

Above the men hang the regimental flags from long ago. A plaque on the nearby walls states "Sacred to the memory of James Slator Cummings Esquire, Liutenant in the 9th Regiment of Foot who was killed in action in Afghanistan at the forcing of the Kyber Pass on the 5th April 1842 aged 23 years while gallantly leading a company of that regiment, a brave soldier and a sincere christian."

As a friend of St. Patrick's Cathedral I never thought I'd see a scene like this within the walls. I'm glad to hear reports that the hunger strikers are taking water. The children should give up their strike now. It is heartening that the Department of Justice will meet with the men.
This case highlights the difficulties of the refugee appeals system in Ireland.

The Refugee Appeals Tribunal is famous for the secrecy under which it operates and the lack of transparency surrounding its decision making process. The Minister appoints the members of the Tribunal and there is no independent selection or interview procedure. Only one case in five cases of those who have sought asylum here has been granted. Of course the system can be abused, but these men are desperate and we need transparancy to ensure that these mens' applications are carefully considered.


Anonymous said...

What they are not saying is that they are Christians and if returned to Afghanistan they will be Persecuted, tortured and Killed 1 by 1 once a Muslim always a Muslim...this is Sura Law.....They are most likely a very good asset hard workers just looking for a place to raise their families without the fear of death around every corner.... Just for the record I am an Ultra Concretive

Arthur Sealy said...

Yes, I agree that there should be more transparency within the procedure for asylum applications, and suggest that decisions regarding applications be taken completely away from the government and Department of JELR, so as to make the procedure non-political. Currently over 4000 asylum seekers reach our ports only to be turned away on arrival. Add to this another 4000 who get through and manage to have their applications processed. The Government will have us believe that the asylum situation is 'under control'. Only a total, however, of 6 per cent of all those who 'want' to enter this country to apply for asylum are ever granted refugee status. (Most of these are only after appeal). The Irish Refugee Council has been critical of the government's refusal to allow an independent system to monitor refusals of entry at Irish ports. The recent Afghan crisis at St Patrick's demonstrated the frustration of many asylum seekers who are fearful they will be deported (these are life and death situations for those who face return to their country of origin); it also served to highlight in the public mind an awareness of this government's fortress attitude to those in need of protection. Let's face it: the government puts in place as many obstacles as it can for those from 'third world' countries. The injustices of the worker permit system, and the worker visa system, are all too obvious. Let's hope that the Greens in government will be more open to the needy 'other'.

Arthur Sealy, Student on the MPhil Programme in Ethnic and Racial Studies, TCD