The Unite the Union Irish Policy conference took place earlier this week, the 11th and 12th of May. Unite Youth Dublin Activist Group members were in attendance and spoke on a variety of motions including JobBridge, Marriage Equality, Repeal of the 8th Amendment as well as moving the Youth Committee motion that pertained to Direct Provision and union support for abolishment. We are pleased to add that every motion UY-DAG spoke on was passed.

The text of Motion 23:

Direct Provision

‘This Conference reiterates the commitment of Unite the Union, Irish Region, in support of migrant workers and their families having the right to respect, compassion and decency while they apply for residency on the island of Ireland.

In recognition of the fact that today’s migrants are tomorrow’s workers with whom our members will work beside and stand beside during industrial action; we demand that the issue of immigration be dealt with as humanely as possible by government.

In the Republic of Ireland, this conference calls for the recent proposal in Unite’s budget submission (2015) to abolish the Direct Provision system; to henceforth become official union policy. This system traps new migrants in a state of almost permanent limbo as they are detained in centres where under law; they are denied their employment rights and access to an education beyond the leaving certificate.

In return, migrants received extremely basic accommodation and meals with only a meagre €19.10 per week in income; spent on essentials like soap, toothpaste and washing powder. Children receive only €9.60 per week; an amount thoroughly insufficient for their needs. This situation can continue for up to ten years, causing skilled workers to lose their training while young adults must watch their peer’s progress to college without them.

The negative impacts of this for people involved cannot be overstated. Direct Provision is a system that has ruined, and continues to ruin, hundreds of productive lives. Our union should be actively involved in ensuring its removal.

In Northern Ireland, this conference calls for the right to education and employment for asylum seekers, so that they can lead healthy and productive lives. As regards payments received, this conference calls for the rates paid to asylum seekers to be reviewed to ensure they are not discriminatory.’

Laura Duggan speaking on Ending Direct Provision Motion
UY-DAG member speaking on Ending Direct Provision Motion

Text of the Speech by the Unite Youth Dublin Representative in Support of the Motion:

‘Conference, we have already spoken about the Right2water campaign and no doubt it will be spoken of again, a campaign based in the idea that water is a human right and from motion 16 a campaign that is expected to grow and develop on the rights approach.

It would be hypocritical of us to claim a deep desire for human rights to be a given and guiding light of our movement if we only mean rights for those we deem “worthy” of them.

One of the most vulnerable sectors of society are those living in direct provision, the sector to whom basic rights like that of liberty, freedom of movement, Privacy, family and home life are denied. The right to employment and education and the right to adequate living standards are nothing but a pipe dream.

And to add indignity upon indignity, the racist 2004 citizenship referendum denies a country to children who are born here to the wrong parents, a citizenship that many of us in this room take for granted.

Direct provision doesn’t need reform, it needs to be abolished. The present Immigration Residence & Protection Bill of 2010 is not clear or transparent. It fails to set out the rules under which people can enter and remain in the State and allows for summary removal, that is deportation without notice.

The Republic of Ireland has one of these worst track record in Europe in standards of care for refugees and immigrants seeking asylum. We should be ashamed of it.

We should vote yes to motion 23 to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters currently interned by the state for no other reason than wanting to make a home here and lead productive lives.

If we pass this motion, we will be the first union to call for the abolition of the direct provision system. When the enquiries and investigations begin in years to come regarding the abuses of direct provision, our actions here today will be marked as a clear message that Unite the Union would not remain silent like so many others. Support motion 23 and make the abolition of direct provision our fight, in the name of justice.’ 

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