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Helen Uchechukwu Ogbu wrote this paper – a very important one, we feel.
14th March 2014
On Direct Provision.
Mashed potato is the daily food for the children here. There is nothing else made. When you are taking the child off the breast as from 6 months, the kids here are only given mashed potato that is the daily food they are given.
There is no variety given. Even the play area. This is the place where they play. (We are meeting in the dining hall). There are no games or activities for the children. There is so little room in the bedrooms. Your baby cannot even play in the room.
When a child grows up they need to grow up with privacy but in this situation your child just sees their mother naked every time. You all live in one room together all the time. Every conversation you are having the child hears. The child understands everything; you are crying she is there, each and everything which is happening. The children become more affected, we are already affected, we are already in broken pieces now our children are. And you know as young as you are, as small as you are you see your mom going through that kind of thing, all the time she is crying. They come back from school you are crying. There is no time that mum is super happy it is just really affecting the kids.
It’s stressful and emotional all the time.
It is worse for couples. You are sleeping in the same room as a ten year old or a seven year old the children can see anything.
Once a week you might see baby food produced but sometimes not and you have to ask.
Sometimes the baby and children are tired of the food and they don’t want to eat. And the mother is forced to feed the baby to make sure it gets some nutrients.
We will cook in our rooms. I have not eaten in that kitchen for the last two months. I earn 19 euros. I’d rather have that 19 euros and buy my food than suffer. The food isn’t nice.
One to three beds per room. You can hardly walk or hoover the room.
(On the owner of the hostel, hostels are managed as private businesses) He wants money for three beds that is all. It is an advantage for him. A pregnant women in sharing with two other people (strangers).
There are men that are aggressive and they are here (sharing the same hostel). Children have to witness this aggressive behaviour.
There are three double stories here. You find out men are on the bottom floors. We as women are up the stairs. There is one woman with two children and in the next room is a man.
There is a women now she is 7 or 8 months pregnant she is living on the last floor. She fell a few days ago and nothing has been done about it (moving her). They have not even removed her from that floor.
Why can’t mothers and children be put into separate hostels from men?
(Five years in direct provision.) You are running away from a place of danger only to find that your situation here is even worse. You are mixed with a stranger who maybe was a soldier raping women and kids and he is coming to be your neighbour opposite you. What is that? Why don’t they move single men to their own hostel? Because it is even better to be with single women as mothers than to be opposite an unknown stranger. When you are going out to take the food in the kitchen the man is there and you don’t really know. You have been traumatised already with what has been happening to you, because of what men have done to you. What you have been through and seen what men have done to you and on top of that you come in to face this man again as a stranger you don’t know what’s going to happen to you and to the children. You don’t know what is in someone’s heart. You don’t know what they think. They are just strangers. Why do they make our lives even more harder than it is already? You know it’s even better to say straight to the EU or anyone please take all asylum out of Ireland we don’t need them because we cannot provide we cannot harbour them. Because to be honest with you we cannot call this helping, because it is more damaging than helping. Kids are the most affected by this. There are children who were born here (Ireland) and they are still following the pattern of what has been happening to us. And the worst thing is that they are getting it from the place that is called a place of safety.
In the European Migration Network report of 2005 about reception systems, it was outlined that bathrooms should be en suite and the size of rooms should comply with housing law. “In accordance with adherence to regulatory requirements, many rooms in direct provision are ensuite.” It continued, “…maximum room capacity is determined in accordance with section 63 of the Housing Act 1966 which requires that sleeping accommodation provides 11.32 cubic metres per person”.
Most residents have been in Direct Provision for over three years and some for more than seven years. They receive a weekly cash allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child which is paid for out of the social protection budget. The rate has not changed since 2000.
The Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon, has raised concerns about the detrimental effect of Direct Provision accommodation on children and on parents’ ability to provide adequate care. He describes the system as amounting to institutionalised poverty.
The Free Seas
7th, 8th and 9th of April
Located at the First Lock of the Royal Canal, Charleville Mall Library, Dublin 1, Ireland.
Part of The Five Lamps Arts Festival 2011.
The Frees Seas is a creative collaboration between artists Áine Ivers and Kathryn Maguire. Inspired and moved by a story told by the folklorist Terry Fagan, the artists undertook to build a raft and float it on the Royal Canal at The First Lock. The installation arising from this undertaking will be visible on the canal as part of this year’s Five Lamps Arts Festival.
The Free Seas collaboration explores the manifestation of Ireland’s identity as an island – the physicality and the psyche of such an existence. Terry Fagan’s story relates how, as a young boy growing up in the Five Lamps area, he and his friends once built a raft near the canal as they dreamed of escaping 1960’s Ireland. The story, for Maguire and Ivers, represented the heart of what they wished to explore: the nature of island life, the dark and tragic legacies of the island’s recent social history, and the eternal island dream of escape – of water as a medium of change, hope and difference.
They tied this story into an old mariner concept called ‘Mare Liberum’ – The Free Sea – whereby one is free to journey on the sea without permit or passport, in contrast to the bureaucracies of land travel. The opening up of physical and psychical borders interested them here. The geography and history of Terry Fagan’s story became a structure for creative collaboration on this idea. The artists’ attempt to create a raft from found detritus and float it is offered as an ecological, sculptural and social symbol of the necessity of the ideas of free movement, escape and survival; ones which island living curtails, yet the concept of The Free Sea excites.
Artists’ Collaborative Statement
We are interested in the place where lands meet waters, and the historical proposal of Mare Liberum – The Free Sea. We propose a project that starts with these points and locates in Fairview. We see the geography and history of Fairview as a way to structure our collaborative investigations into these ways of thinking. We see the reopening of The Royal Canal as a channel to lead exploration of these ideas, through a workshop-based project with children from the locale of Fairview. We also see the folklore of Fairview as feeding into the project: we wish to employ storytelling as a medium for exploring contemporary relationships between the residents of the area and the presence of a once-closed, newly-accessible canal system. We see the canal as a possible site for a micro-economy of history, ecology and movement, based on the currency of story-telling, the price of portals, and the history of canals as channels for trade and economy in general.
Outline of Project.
– A series of workshops for children from Swan Youth Services, during which they explored raft-making in response to storytelling.
– Storytelling with a local folklorist Terry Fagan.
– Sculptural installation on the Royal Canal by artists Kathryn Maguire and Áine Ivers.
– An exhibition of the children’s rafts and sketches on The Kingfisher Barge on the Royal Canal.
– Boat rides on the Dubhlinn co-ordinated by Inland Waterways.
– Canal-side sea shanties sung by members of Clontarf Yacht Club.
Thanks to all participants and people who helped to make this project happen.
Martin Leen, Five Lamps Arts Festival.
Róisín Lonergan, Five Lamps Arts Festival.
Terry Fagan, for storytelling.
Sinead McCauley, Swan Youth Services.
Toni, Chloe, Katie, Waldek, Joanne, Jessica, Megan and Jodie, the children from Swan Youth Services who participated in the workshops.
Mick Kinahan, and all who helped out at Inland Waterways.
Derek Whelan, owner of The Kingfisher Barge.
Frank Purcell and the members of Clontarf Yacht Club who gave their time to this project.
Noreen and all the staff at Charleville Mall Library.
Dave and Richie and the men from Irish Fire Services on North Brunswick Street, Dublin.
Karl and Kay for taking photographs.
Marita, Paul, Albert, and Jane, The Five Lamps Festival volunteers.
Tom, Ken, Joe and all who turned out to help assemble the raft at the Canal.
Breffni and Róisín for helping to make a sample raft.
Aoife for bringing muffins.