Yesterday, I received a call from researchers of RTÉ Radio 1’s Liveline programme, asking me if I would be available and willing to speak about the issue of of local election candidates’ access to Direct Provision centres.
Below is a transcript of my discussion with Liveline’s presenter, with Joe Duffy, which took place at around 2pm.
You can listen to the programme here. (My contribution is about seven and a half minutes long, followed by contributions from Margaret Peters and another caller.)
[UPDATE 16th May 2014 at 9:05am]
The Dr Liam Thornton on the Human Rights in Ireland blog has summarised arguments put forward by the State in an ongoing legal challenge to the system of Direct Provision in Ireland. These arguments include the rationale behind the introduction of the system of Direct Provision.
Does this remedy this? In short: no.
Not least because it seems that the Circular issued by RIA purports to maintain a prohibition on election candidates speaking with residents; nor due to the fact that RIA continues to insist on imposing a designation of “politically neutral environment” upon every Direct Provision centre in Ireland.
More fundamentally, there appears to be precisely zero basis in law for RIA’s missives.
The headline in TheJournal.ie remains a true statement: Politicians are not allowed to talk to people seeking asylum in Ireland.
The Circular which was issued within 24 to 48 hours of Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire’s initial tweets makes one change to existing RIA policy. Election candidates “may be allowed to drop off election leaflets to be picked up and read by residents if they so wish,” which “may be left in a suitable designated area” within the Direct Provision.
This is the only explicit change in RIA policy. Everything else remains as it was.
On 12th May 2014, I attended a conference on women in the media, during which one of the speakers, Katie Orenstein, posed a powerful question:
What is the cost to society if so many voices and minds are missing?
Source: The OpEd Project/EDUlibs
This question is relevant including and beyond issues of sexism and exclusion of women from positions of power and influence. Yesterday, it emerged (not for the first time), that election canvassers are prohibited from canvassing at direct provision centres in Ireland.
There are approximately 4,360 asylum seekers and survivors of human trafficking residing in direct provision accommodation in Ireland. Every adult among them has the right to vote in local elections.
If candidates for political election are impeded in canvassing the views of some of their constituents, then what becomes of those views? And how can the eventually elected politicians properly represent members of society in their constituencies?
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