A version of this article originally appeared in The Irish Times, Friday October 19, 2012.
By Angela Long
Times are tough: many of you reading this are worried about the mortgage, the bills, the future. But imagine a nasty situation blows up in your street or estate, so nasty that you have to head for the airport and leave the country. When you arrive in a seemingly civilized destination, you have to tell an inquisitor the original name of Croke Park stadium, before you are allowed stay in the country.*
Absurd? It might be, but this is the equivalent of the type of question considered suitable as a test for people seeking asylum in Ireland. And, if the person cannot answer correctly about their home country, they are deemed to be ‘unreliable’ or mendacious, and their case takes a turn for the worse.
The 5,000 people living in our country today seeking asylum are at the bottom of the pile of concerns for legislators, authorities and the average citizen. But that should not mean they suffer inhumanitarian treatment. And the way they are treated by the Irish ‘system’ is nothing less than racist and cruel.
Innocent people can be put in limbo for three, six, even 10 years while a lethargic civil service dabs occasionally at their cases.
On September 27 a Congolese man who has been awaiting a decision on his refugee application for six years took his life at the refugee hostel in Mosney, Co Meath – a pleasant setting, but a remote location, like most of the hostels.
Suicide is a regular feature of the so-called system whereby Ireland lives up to its obligations under international treaties. Another, deportation, is the target of a new campaign for justice launched by asylum-seekers and their supporters.