A CORK city school principal has called for the direct provision system in Ireland to be completely overhauled.
One hundred first-year students from Coláiste Éamman Rís, formerly Deerpark CBS, travelled to Waterford today to take part in a rally against the system. The school will host a rally for its remaining students at lunchtime.
Acting principal Aaron Wolfe said the system, which was established 20 years ago to house refugees and asylum seekers, was supposed to be temporary and needs an overhaul.
Today, 96 Edmund Rice schools will take part in the rally at Mount Sion, Waterford.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Wolfe, explained: “Young people today have a great sense of what is socially unjust. Our difficulty was limiting how many students could go. The Edmund Rice Schools Trust recently published a position paper on direct provision called ‘Futures on Hold’, which explored the hardship for young people living in the system.
The paper said that “schools cannot compensate for a direct provision system that isolates young people, that keeps them trapped in poverty, that fails to provide basic rights to privacy and family life and that too often leaves young people feeling lonely, dispirited, without hope and without the chance to pursue their ambitions and futures”.
Coláiste Éamman Rís recently made headlines, along with University College Cork, as the school fought to prevent the deportation of the Khan family, four of whom attended the school. That case is to be reviewed by the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, following appeals from the school, UCC and local politicians. “Our students have a particular interest in the Direct Provision system, considering their campaign to keep the Khan family in Ireland,” continued Mr Wolfe.
“But most young people go to school with children living in direct provision and can see first hand the difficulties facing these families.
“We recognise of course that this system is better than what they’ve come from but it’s by no means perfect,” he added.
“Direct Provision... become something that is short term and compassionate — it’s not right that a family can live here for three or four years then be sent away,” said Mr Wolfe, who highlighted the impact the system has on a person’s childhood.
“Imagine being a child and never allowed having friends to visit or call over or not having a kitchen to sit around the table as a family or prepare a meal when you want or simply not being given any privacy, to live alongside complete strangers in confinement, and parents having to share bedrooms with their teenage children. Although academic development to third level are at the top of the agenda at Coláiste Éamman Rís, we also want our students to leave our school as strong, compassionate people with a deep awareness of global/political issues and social injustices.”