Ireland’s Direct Provision Centres
Our past and our present
in Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries
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The Direct Provision scheme was introduced in Ireland in November 1999. By 2019 forty accommodation centres were located across the country in former convents, army barracks, former hotels, holiday homes, and others. Most are situated outside towns and cities, on the periphery of society, significantly reducing integration with the local population and leaving asylum seekers to dwell in a ghettoised environment. Direct Provision Centres are disciplinary and exclusionary; they separate and conceal asylum seekers from mainstream society and ultimately prevent their long-term integration or inclusion. They are, as Goffman notes, ‘total institutions, forcing houses for changing persons, each … a natural experiment on what can be done to the self’.

In Direct Provision, asylum seekers live in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions, and families with children are often forced to share small rooms. The management controls everything from the supply of bed linen and cleaning materials, to residents’ food and movements. According to Lentin, Direct Provision Centres are ‘holding camps’ and ‘sites of deportability’, which ‘construct their inmates as deportable subjects, ready to be deported any time’. This chapter provides a first-hand account of experience in the Irish Direct Provision system.

Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries

Commemoration, gender, and the postcolonial carceral state

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