Updated: 16/11/16 : 06:45:39
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Refugee centres 'like Long Kesh without watchtowers'

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

LONG KESH -- without the watchtowers -- that was the vivid picture yesterday of how Ireland treats illegal immigrants.

Unlike the Irish in America, Ireland does not permit these immigrants to work.

Nor does it allow them to cook their own meals and it limits their childrens' education opportunities in this State.

Instead Ireland holds them in centres and offers millions to the operators.

We call these centres 'direct provision' -- an Irish oxymoron, a contradiction, if ever there was one.

Main Person

Little murmur either EVER from the Churches. Reps of the various religions seem reticent. 

The main person to speak out has been President Michael D Higgins.

He said proposals to allow these refuge seekers to work were both ''reasonable and practical.''

President Higgins has classified the refusal of the right to work as ''heartbreaking'' and ''immoral.''

Fifty Pence

Menagile, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald gave us her her short 'spake' yesterday about Donald Trump.

To recall a phrase of the great Gay Byrne - add fifty pence to all such 'spakes' and you can buy a cup of coffee in the RTÉ canteen.

Meaning, that all the howling this week at the bigger and larger moon by those who detest Donald Trump is 100% meaningless.

Besides, the Minister for Justice has plenty on her plate re: direct provision.

She can (fairly) argue that the shambles was initiated by Fianna Fáil.

But the party with the social justice agenda this past fifty years has surely been Fine Gael.

Five Years

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams had some grim stats on the direct provision centres when he spoke in the Dáil yesterday, Tuesday.

Not quite America's Guantanamo or Russia's Gulag but not an Irish Gaelgoiri-goers paradise either.

Adams mentioned that 604 people in direct provisions centres have been there for five years or more.

We hold a total of 4,301 immigrants in these centres currently, said Deputy Adams.

Except he didn't say 'hold;' Adams said 'incarcerate.' Little short of imprisonment without trial was what he really meant.

It beggars belief that it is the President and not priests and parsons who have been speaking on all this.

The reason 'why not' may be that they don't want to be the targets of localised racist abuse. Maybe so.

But we will need to have a coherent policy, workable and working, in place on refugees before Britain leaves Europe. 

Otherwise we will be swamped.....with exponential expansion(s) of the problems and issues described above.

Yesterday's description of Butlins holding centre as ''Long Kesh without the watchtowers'' should sadden and shame us.

Happy Memory

Butlins was once a (British) holiday camp in Ireland, full of screaming and happy families, mostly.

My happy memory is of three annual September weekends spent there in the infancy years of Community Games covering national finals for regional media.

There were lots of friendships forged through all those Butlins years.

Some Generosity

We need to find that spirit, plus some generosity and a better sense of fairness in how we process immigrants seeking refugee status here. 

President Higgins was probably correct, too, when he hinted at an amnesty for those more than five years.