Objectives of this Paper
- To encourage a more streamlined approach to the integration of refugees and asylum
seekers in Ireland
- To promote strategic planning to develop a symbiosis between integration and the
development of the State
International and national obligations to the right to housing
Ireland has obligations under international agreements to provide for the right to housing. Article 25 of the United Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) provides that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services”. Similarly, Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) provides that States Parties recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions”. States which have signed this Covenant are obligated to ‘take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right’.
The Co-op would like to endorse the position of the Living Wage Technical Group of which Social Justice Ireland, Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI), TASC and SIPTU are members. In this submission we will briefly articulate the reasons for this endorsement and reaffirm the benefits of implementing the Living Wage, as they have been outlined by the aforementioned organisations. Our promotion of this position stems from our work in disadvantaged areas of the inner city. As is highlighted in our recently published No Child Shall Suffer report, there are working people of the inner city unable to provide an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families. The realisation of the Living Wage would alleviate significant stress and suffering for those we call the ‘working poor’.
National and International commitments to children and young people
Ireland has made numerous commitments to the wellbeing of the nation’s children. In January of 1919 the first Dáil of Ireland declared that no child in Ireland would go hungry, be denied shelter, or lack the means to gain an education. In 1992 Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The rights endowed upon all children following its ratification include the right to shelter, nutrition, education, and protection from neglect and abuse.
In 2014 the Irish government introduced the first overarching national policy framework for children and young people. Better Outcomes Brighter Futures (BOBF), contained within it numerous positive and progressive commitments to the children and young people of this country. The six transformational goals and five national outcomes remain highly relevant for the succeeding policy framework. However, there is an implementation gap that must be prioritized going forward.
In Numbers-Communities Impacted in the North East Inner City
On-street drug dealing, drug related intimidation (DRI) and anti-social behaviour are deeply rooted challenges faced by many communities of the inner city of Dublin, both on the north side and south side of the river Liffey. To highlight population numbers in areas that are subject to daily on-street drug dealing, DRI and anti-social behaviour the analysis that follows focuses on the North East Inner City (NEIC). In due course it is planned to conduct a similar analysis on other areas of the inner city.
The analysis in this short paper examines the population figures for 27 NEIC Local Small Areas where ongoing-street drug dealing, DRI and anti-social behaviour are ongoing occurrences and for many of these areas the situation has prevailed for decades. The 27 Local Small Areas chosen for inclusion in this paper are by no means exhaustive but they reflect the areas of the NEIC where the problem is most prevalent.
The government is bound to the protection of children and the promotion of their wellbeing by numerous national and international policy documents and agreements, including Better Outcomes Brighter Futures, First 5, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the latest EU Child Guarantee. The lack of capacity (space, staffing numbers, finances, resources) within ECL facilities and services for SAC is a systemic flaw which undermines the ability of government to fulfil these obligations. The lack of capacity counteracts the goal of accessibility stated in Better Outcomes Brighter Futures. It impedes the realization of the first objective identified in First 5: to foster strong and supportive families and communities as a means to enable parents to balance work and caring roles. Lastly, the EU Child Guarantee introduced in 2021 recommends that member states guarantee that children have effective and free access to early childhood education and care. Clearly the dearth of spaces in such services is a practical issue which must be addressed if the government can reasonably expect to effectuate this recommendation.
A two-tier refugee system has emerged in Ireland. It is crucial to ask what the justifications and uses of a two-tiered system are (if any) before it becomes entrenched. The capacity of our society and government to respond with compassion, speed and vigour to the needs of Ukrainian refugees has been demonstrated since the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. This provides us with an opportunity to apply those lessons to the reform of our international protection system and ensure an inequitable two-tier system does not become the norm or even worse, accepted.
In the policy brief Responding with Care – Ireland’s Response to the Ukraine Crisis published by the Roundtable on Migrations in Our Common Home (2022), the authors ask why such a Temporary Protection Directive has not been established previously, notably during the refugee crisis that Europe faced in 2015. It is not the purpose of this statement to advocate for the expansion of the Temporary Protection Directive. However, it is salient for us as a society to reflect on the disparities in urgency, protection and rights afforded to asylum seekers of different nationalities fleeing near-identical situations. If we are to continue with a two-tiered system, we must strive to reduce the inequities between the tiers to honour the central principle of non-discrimination laid out in the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and Protocol (1967).
One of the most pressing issues addressed by Co-op members is the shocking and persistent levels of child and family poverty and social exclusion. The extent of this issue has become even more evident during the Covid-19 epidemic. This crisis has underscored the deep-seated inequalities that persist in our society and has highlighted the importance of putting children at the heart of building a fairer and more inclusive and sustainable society as we emerge from the pandemic. However, if as a society we are finally to face up to the challenge of ensuring that we cherish all our children equally, then we must start by listening to the experience of children and their families experiencing poverty and social exclusion and those working with them on the ground. The fourteen stories in this publication do just that. They are pen pictures of the lived experience of some of the most vulnerable children and families in the communities in which Co-op members work. We hope that in publishing these powerful stories we will increase public and political awareness of the need to intensify all our efforts to support children in vulnerable situations and to end child poverty and social exclusion.