03 Dec 2021

WATCH: University of Limerick students greet Taoiseach with protest against Direct Provision

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar was greeted by a silent protest at the University of Limerick this Thursday lunchtime.

Students were demonstrating against the continued use of Direct Provision in Ireland, with UL student life welfare officer Lorcan O'Donnell describing it as "inhumane".

Around 10 students took part in the demonstration and wore duct tape on their mouth to symbolise that those who live in direct provision fear speaking up in case it would negatively affect their asylum application, according the UL Student Life twitter account. 

"It's a system that's been around the last 20 years. That's 20 years of hardship, controlling asylum seekers, surpressing asylum seekers, and we are not going to stand for another 20 years of it," Mr O'Donnell said.

The students were moved by gardai from the entrance to the Glucksmann Library, where they were going to challenge Mr Varadkar when he arrived to provide an update on the Ireland 2040 national development plan.

However, they did get a few words with the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe before he entered the library.

Mr Varadkar, who was met with protests on Wednesday in Cork, said: "Protests are part of democracy. People are entitled to express their opinions, so long as they do it non-violently and respectfully."

Responding to suggestions of a meltdown in support for Fine Gael come polling day, he added: "Our candidates are working very hard on the ground saying they are getting a good respoinse - certainly much ebtter than five years ago. The public will ultimately decide on election day who does well and who doesn't."

Recently, University of Limerick Student Life sabbatical officers attempted to live on €38.80 in order to highlight the fierce restrictions on the autonomy of residents living n direct provision.

UL has offered fifteen Sanctuary scholarships each year since 2017 to those from refugee and asylum-seeking communities, which include support towards the costs of higher education.

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