Limerick exhibition highlights ‘invisible children’

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

At the Invisible Children installation at MIC were Deirdre O'Rourke, with current B.Ed. students Niamh Gilligan, Siobhan Kelly and Eilis McCarthy. Picture: Brian Gavin, Press 22
AN EXHIBITION to highlight the physical, social and psychological impact on children of growing up in asylum seekers accommodation is currently on display in Mary Immaculate College.

AN EXHIBITION to highlight the physical, social and psychological impact on children of growing up in asylum seekers accommodation is currently on display in Mary Immaculate College.

As part of an on-going public awareness campaign, in conjunction with the Irish Refugee Council, Doras Luimní, the local support group for migrants, are exhibiting their ‘Invisible Children Installation’ in the South Circular Road college.

The installation replicates a typical family room in asylum seeker accommodation in order to demonstrate the reality of living in direct provision.

There are currently approximately 5,000 asylum seekers living in direct provision in Ireland, and it is estimated that one third of these are children.

In Limerick, there are 408 in the direct provision system, including 50 children.

The length of time they spend in the asylum process can range from less than a year to more than seven years.

These groups have raised concerns about the impact this living environment can have on children who spend a significant proportion of their childhood in direct provision accommodation.

The Irish Refugee Council recently highlighted concerns for children living in confined spaces, in an ‘unnatural living environment’, which they say could lead to depression and mental health problems.

Karen McHugh, chief executive of Doras Luimni, said “it is not appropriate to compel children to live in this kind of institutional setting for extended periods of time and this practice must end.”

Deirdre O’Rourke, lecturer in development education and intercultural education, at Mary Immaculate, said “it is hugely important that student teachers gain an awareness of the difficulties visited upon children in the asylum system in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, Dr. Carol O’Sullivan, acting head of the department of learning, society, and religious education, said this also highlights to the students their role in protecting and promoting the human rights of migrant people.”

The exhibition is currently housed in the Chaplaincy Room, TARA building, and is available to view from 9am – 5pm until April 9.