Eman­ci­pate those in di­rect pro­vi­sion, ac­tor Rea urges

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By John Lee PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

AC­TOR Stephen Rea will call on the Gov­ern­ment to ‘eman­ci­pate’ asy­lum seek­ers from Ir­ish di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tres at a po­lit­i­cal fes­ti­val this week.

Rea, who starred in Hol­ly­wood movies The Cry­ing Game, In­ter­view With A Vam­pire and Michael Collins – will call for what he calls these ‘aw­ful cen­tres’ to be closed.

He will speak at the Tem­ple Bar Fes­ti­val of Pol­i­tics this week, which will also fea­ture one of Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign man­agers.

Rea will be joined by peo­ple with di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence of di­rect pro­vi­sion, which they will say was in­tro­duced as an in­terim mea­sure 18 years ago.

Rea gave the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day a pre­view of the is­sues he in­tends to raise at the City Assem­bly House on South Wil­liam Street in Dublin on Thurs­day.

‘We know what it is to mi­grate,’ said Mr Rea, ‘We know what po­lit­i­cal asy­lum means. Why are we not more re­spon­sive to the needs of these peo­ple?

‘In­stead we’re putting them in aw­ful cen­tres with very lim­ited re­sources and giv­ing them a pit­tance, €21.60 a week... we shouldn’t be treat­ing them as less than Ir­ish cit­i­zens.’

Rea will draw par­al­lels with Daniel O’Con­nell’s cam­paign for Catholic Eman­ci­pa­tion in the 1840s and the ap­par­ent of­fi­cial lack of sym­pa­thy for asy­lum seek­ers.

The di­rect pro­vi­sion sys­tem was es­tab­lished in 2000 to house asy­lum seek­ers en­ter­ing the State.

It was ini­tially de­scribed as an in­terim sys­tem that would pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion for a six-month pe­riod while in­di­vid­u­als awaited an out­come to their ap­pli­ca­tions. But pro­cess­ing asy­lum claims takes a long time.

Those liv­ing at the cen­tres scat­tered around Ire­land, are barred from seek­ing em­ploy­ment.

‘Its dis­grace­ful, aw­ful, and we need to eman­ci­pate these peo­ple from these aw­ful cen­tres,’ said Rea. ‘This is a re­ally im­por­tant is­sue.’

There were 5,096 men, women and chil­dren, in­clud­ing 801 fam­i­lies, liv­ing in the 34 di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tres across 17 coun­ties in Ire­land by the end of De­cem­ber 2017. Di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tres are lo­cated in ho­tels and dis­used hol­i­day camps.

It was dis­closed last year that the Louth busi­ness­man be­hind the for­mer Mos­ney fun park, which is now used as a mas­sive di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tre, is worth €45m. Phe­lim McCloskey bought for­mer Mos­ney fun park for €800,000 in 1982. Mr McCloskey’s firm, Mos­ney, is con­trolled by an Isle of Man com­pany. He bought the Mos­ney camp from But­lin’s for around £800,000 back in 1982.

Rea will host an evening of mu­sic and po­etry in a rally for the ‘eman­ci­pa­tion of those in di­rect pro­vi­sion’.

The Fes­ti­val of Pol­i­tics will run from 15-18 Novem­ber at venues in and around Tem­ple Bar in Dublin. Tick­ets are avail­able at fes­ti­val­of­pol­i­tics.ie

de­mANd: Stephen Rea is speak­ing at a Dublin fes­ti­val

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