Bishop calls for better care of migrants in Ireland as Irish Chaplaincy marks 60 years supporting Irish emigrants
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Bishop calls for better care of migrants in Ireland as Irish Chaplaincy marks 60 years supporting Irish emigrants

IRELAND needs a more respectful approach to migrants arriving on its shores, according to one of the country's bishops.

Speaking in London, Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby - who is also Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Emigrants - said Ireland's Direct Provision for migrants needs to change.

“In Ireland the system of Direct Provision for migrants arriving from very difficult situations is a very unsatisfactory arrangement and we need to change it into a more respectful system for those coming to Ireland,” he said.

Direct Provision provides for the welfare of asylum seekers and their families as they await decisions on their asylum application.

Overseen by the Department of Justice, ut provides essential services, medical care and accommodation and board with three meals a day at set times.

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But according to the Irish Immigrant Support Centre Nasc, the majority of the 35 centres around the country are privately owned and operated where standards of accommodation and living conditions vary widely.

Bishop Kirby said: "In Ireland the system of Direct Provision for migrants arriving from very difficult situations is a very unsatisfactory arrangement and we need to change it into a more respectful system for those coming to Ireland.

 

He added: "The problems of those trying to get to Europe from the Middle East and North Africa continue to grow. It is a huge problem for all the countries of the Western world and particularly for us here in Europe."

The Bishop was speaking at a special Mass which took place in the Sacred Heart Church, London to mark the 60th anniversary of The Irish Chaplaincy in Britain.

Established by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in 1957 as the Irish Emigrant Chaplaincy, today the Chaplaincy provides an outreach service to three main groups - prisoners, Travellers and elderly Irish people.

Bishop Kirby also had special words of praise for the Irish who left Ireland down through the decades and those supported the Irish economy through the practice of what became known as 'postal remittances - money sent to help families back home.

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"A further wave of emigration took place in Ireland in early years of independence at a time of recession and hardship in the 1940s and 1950s," he said.

"Many of you here in this church in Kilburn are Irish born or are descended from Irish born people of that period.

"Your work and life here have contributed to your own prosperity and to the prosperity of this country."

"Sadly, not everyone was able to contribute to life in the new country or in the old," he added. "We know that there are Irish people who continue to need help and the Irish Chaplaincy Service exists precisely to help them.

Minister for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon, also extended his thanks to the Irish chaplaincy in London on its 60th anniversary.

The Chaplaincy is among the recipients of the Irish Government's annual Emigrant Support Programme grants. Last year is received £220,000.

"For the past 60 years, the Irish chaplaincy has done sterling work among Irish emigrants in London and provided a caring, compassionate and confidential link with home," Minister Cannon said.

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"Regrettably, some chapters in our country's history have been allied to emigration, from the ships that left here during the dreadful years of the Great Famine to the more recent departures in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Wherever the Irish went, they made a massive contribution to the social and cultural life of their host communities.

He added: "Sadly, not all reached the prosperity they may have dreamed of when they first left home and it was for this purpose that the Irish chaplaincy was established in 1957.

"Be it in visits to older people who may have felt isolated, providing support to those Irish who find themselves in prison in Britain, acting as a link between London and home or simply in being present, the Irish chaplaincy has been a constant for 60 years in the lives of the Irish in London."