Correspondences: An Anthology to Call for an End to Direct Provision in Ireland

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“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Zora Neale Hurston

On Thursday I joined my friend Nadette and actor Stephen Rea, Jessica Traynor and Bulelani Mfaco of MASI – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland. We gathered in Phibsborough with readers and performers to celebrate the launch of the Correspondences Anthology and listen to asylum seekers experiences.

Direct Provision (Irish: Soláthar Díreach) is a system of asylum seeker accommodation used in Ireland. The system has been in Ireland 20 years but has been criticized by human rights organizations as illegal, inhuman and degrading, while proponents argue that it ensures asylum seekers are housed and cared for, in accordance with international law.

The Correspondences Anthology gathers together writing, photography and visual art by those in direct provision and seeks to create new correspondences between these artists and Irish writers.

One presenter said the Irish are fairly good at welcoming strangers because we have been strangers in many foreign lands. However we are still a society that kicks problems under the carpet.

A MASI representative said the direct provision system is set up to silence and oppress you.

He gave four main aims for MASI :

1. Complete closure of direct provision in Ireland
2. The right to work
3. The right to education
4. Oppose Irish State Deportations

One refugee said “we need to cultivate connection amongst refugees before launching programs from the outside at them.” Refugees are traumatized and when they get here there are “unknowns” which add to their trauma. We heard how its not uncommon for whole families to share one room in direct provision for many years.

Nadette made an announcement about The Welcome Cafe. It’s open every Tuesday of the last month. Created in Dublin in 2015 (Third Space Smithfield) as a space to welcome and celebrate diversity and encourage intercultural exchange.

See Facebook page.

All proceeds from book sales go to MASI.

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