IWOC IRELAND: Statement on Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil & the Green Party’s programme for government
On Monday 15 June 2020 Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party launched their programme for government (PfG). The PfG has received plaudits for its commitment to end the current privatised system of Direct Provision system and replace it with a new accommodation policy, centred on a not-for-profit approach. This commitment is welcomed given that the current system of Direct Provision directly is a form of imprisonment that violates the rights of the people who live there by forcing them to live in conditions that are unsafe and undignified. Yet, the PfG makes no commitment to improve the condition in Ireland’s prisons. IWOC Ireland condemn this PfG as outdated approach to ‘penal reform’ and call on asylum seekers, prisoners and labour movement to come together in solidarity to demand the abolition of all camps, prisons and detention centres across Ireland.
Like Direct Provision centres, prisons deny people of their freedom, their dignity and their basic human rights. Even though the annual cost of a prison space is €75,000 there are still prisoners ‘slopping out’ because they do not have in-cell sanitation.
Like Direct Provision centres, prisons deny prisoners the dignity of single accommodation with only 50% in single cells and 40% required to use the toilet in the presence of other prisoners.
Like asylum seekers in Direct Provision centres, prisoners experience social exclusion: prisoners are over 20 times more likely to come from working class, urban communities that experience high levels of economic deprivation, while the majority of prisoners having no school qualifications and having left school before the age of 15.
Like asylum seekers in Direct Provision centres, prisoners are denied meaningful education opportunities and employment opportunities. The majority of people imprisoned are given short sentences, with over 4,000 people imprison for 12 months or less. A quarter of these are imprisoned for three months or less. During short sentences prisoners are unable to engage in meaningful ‘rehabilitation’ work, but are disconnect from their family, friends and community and often loose their home and their job on release.
DIRECT PROVISION CENTRES AND PRISONS ARE BOTH INSTRUMENT OF CLASS WARFARE USED TO PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THE STATE AND CAPITAL. DIRECT PROVISION CENTRES AND PRISONS OPERATE TO PUNISH THE POOR AND DISAPPEAR MEMBERS OF THE WORKING CLASS MARGINALISED BY GLOBAL NEOLIBERALISM AND PRECARIOUS WORKING CONDITIONS.
Despite the harms caused to individuals, families and communities by imprisonment, the number of working class imprisoned by the State continues to rise. Since 2000 Ireland’s daily prison population has increased by approximately 40%. During this period the rate of imprisonment as risen from 77 per 100,000 to 84 per 100,000. There have been huge increases in the number of people imprisoned because of non-payment of court-ordered fines, of women imprisoned for ‘survival crimes,’ and people imprisoned on immigration charges.
IWOC IRELAND CALLS FOR THE ABOLITION OF ALL FORMS OF IMPRISONMENT ACROSS THE IRELAND OF IRELAND.
1. Ireland’s daily prison population in February 2020 was approximately 4,200 people, up from 2,950 in 2000 (a 42% increase).