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Poverty, Race and Vulnerability

Effects on Children Growing Up in the Irish Asylum System

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Author: Sarah Atkins1
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Rather than providing for the welfare needs of asylum-seekers in Ireland within the existing social welfare structure, the Irish State operates the Direct Provision System. This system provides full board in accommodation centres and a small weekly allowance. The problems with this “temporary” system are manifold, and though these issues are individually problematic in their own right, they are compounded by the fact that it has been known for an asylum application to take seven years or more to reach completion. The Irish State is thus arguably in breach of both international (uncrc) and regional (echr and eu) obligations, as well as their domestic best practice guidelines. This article argues that the intolerability of inadequate long-term living conditions and enforced poverty is undeniable. The effect of poverty and social exclusion, in particular on asylum-seeker children, is highly detrimental and cultivates vulnerability on many levels. Methodologies I use in this article are doctrinal analysis of the relevant instruments and case law as well as engaging in a socio-legal reading of reports and literature in the area, and using this to inform my understanding of the issues. I conclude that such treatment of already vulnerable individuals by the State is manifestly discriminatory and feeds into a discriminatory culture of xenophobia. Political and media discourse engaging in such terminology as “welfare tourism” further exacerbates the issue by creating a marginalised concept the “other” amongst us.

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