Asylum Seekers, Migrant Workers & Budget 2010

Mary HanafinFollowing up from Mairead’s post on campaigning groups and Budget 2010, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mrs. Mary Hanafin T.D. has remained tight-lipped about the suspected cuts to the social welfare budget (See the Minister’s interview with Pat Kenny on RTE’s  The Frontline here). In a recession, those particularly on the margins will be affected. Government social support for asylum seekers was extraordinarily low in the dizzying heights of the Celtic Tiger, and there is no indication that those within the direct provision system will see this system discontinued or reformed-despite the pure economic benefits that could ensue (see a previous blog post on this here).

The condition of reception centres which cater for some 6,800 asylum seekers has recently been in the news (here and here). Asylum seekers in Sligo complained about the condition of a reception centre, due to a lack of hot water and lack of adequate hygiene facilities.

SVPIt is unlikely that Budget 2010 will see any increase in the stipend of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child per week.  Saint Vincent de Paul has stated that there should be no decrease in this level of payment and “common decency requires the rate to be increased”.

Limerick Mayor, Kevin Kiely has stated that immigrants who cannot afford to pay for themselves should be deported from the country after three months. While it is unclear who precisely Cllr. Kiely was referring to, his comments should be challanged. For those seeking protection from the State, they are legislatively prohibited from working on pain of a fine and/or imprisonment. For those immigrants who had an entitlement to work in Ireland, often in the building industry and services sector, it sends a message that these people are simply a means to an end. Once maximum economic value was gained from these immigrants contribution to the economy, they are to be case aside and sent home. It will be interesting to see if debates on immigration, asylum and welfare protection will come to the fore in the coming weeks, in the lead up to Budget 2010.

I will be live blogging Budget 2010 on HRiI on December 9, 2009.  This will be followed by a blog carnival on December 10 2009 (International Human Rights Day) assessing the impact of Budget 2010 on human rights protections in Ireland.