Post Ireland. Travels to Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Budapest

Hello All!

Sorry for the long time no update! I have been resting and taking some ME time! I fell in love with European sceneries and food each city offers.

When I was in Italy…

I went hiking with the Wittmer Family at Cinque Terre for two hours. It was exhausting and I was literally covered in sweat, but it was worth it! Vernazza is an amazing little colorful village. We went swimming and had some gelato afterwards! I also had the opportunity to see the Colosseum in Rome. Now two of the seven wonders of the world are completed! 🙂 And I also found out that I am a photo contest winner for Go Overseas. Check out the picture I took while I was in India featuring in this article:

When I was in Romania…

I met up with my aunt and her family. We visited the Bran Castle, which was known for some vampire history. I think it’s because the King who used to live in that castle used to torture its prisoners. Then we went to a beer fest! It was actually pretty cool since it had a medieval times theme. I also had the opportunity to swim at the Black Sea when I was in Romania later on after we returned from Turkey.

When I was in Bulgaria…

We literally ate, slept, swam and repeat every single day. It was so cool because I swam in the Black Sea at two different locations! I prefer swimming in the Black Sea in Romania though since the water were more crystal clear blue. Then, our next destination was Turkey, but there were protests, conflicts, and ISIS. So my uncle and aunt thought that it would be best if we didn’t go, but fortunately I persuaded them!

So when I was in Turkey…

We ate lots of kebabs, Turkish delights, and drank Turkish tea! We also went to visit the infamous Blue Mosque and the Cistern Basilica. Overall, the food, people, and culture were amazing! It was so amazing that I would love to visit it once again!

And currently, I am in Budapest…

So far, I’ve visited the Hungarian Parliament and other tourist destinations such as the Farmer’s Bastion and Buda Castle. Tomorrow, I will be swimming in the infamous Budapest thermal baths!! So excited! And I will be returning to the States this Sunday.

Essentially, I am pretty bummed that my Euro trip is almost over, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to travel this summer. Everything still seemed surreal to me. I can’t believe I’ve stepped onto Europe by the age of 22 years old; but everything happens for a reason and I’m not complaining!


Assessing Fredella at FLAC

Hello Everyone! I will be flying out to Italy tomorrow!!! I had a great craic in Ireland, but I’m also excited to see other parts of Europe. In Italy, I will be staying with my former resident Natsuki and I just want to thank the Wittmer family in advance. During my stay, I am planning to visit Rome and Venice and I can’t wait! I also want to thank FLAC for having me as well as my family and friends for their endless love and support. Below is an assessment during my time at FLAC. Enjoyyyy!

I am working as an advocacy intern at the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) this summer. FLAC is an independent human rights organization dedicated to the realization of equal access to justice for all. Priority areas for FLAC include: Civil Legal Aid, Social Welfare Law Reform, and Debt Law Reform. Through this internship program, I have learned a lot about myself and the kind of field I will want to pursue in the future.

During my time at FLAC, I learned that I prefer hands on type of work where I am able to interact and engage with people. At FLAC, I was put to work at the reception desk. A receptionist’s job responsibilities includes welcoming visitors, buzzing colleagues and people that are affiliated with FLAC into the building, answering phone calls to provide information services, maintaining department directories as well as distributing the daily mail. As a receptionist, I also conduct research about human rights budgets and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Report. Although a receptionist job is critical to establish a friendly and safe environment in the office, I learned that I am more of an active-participant kind of person who would rather work and assist people on the ground than working in an office setting. For instance, last summer I volunteered at an all-girls school in Pardada Pardadi Educational Society in India. During my time there, I was able to interact with the girls and visit nearby villages to provide a talk about health and hygiene. Even though I enjoy an applied work setting more, I still believe theoretical type of work such as policy-making is important. However, from my experience working in an office setting, I have realized that a hands on interactive work setting would suit me best since I am a sociable person who enjoys learning about the locals and assisting them with difficulties they might experience in the realms of poverty alleviation and social justice.

Additionally, I learned that I enjoy completing a variety of tasks. As a receptionist at FLAC, the job can be extremely repetitive in nature such as dealing with difficult or confused customers and sorting data collections on a daily basis. At times when there are no phone calls or when I want to take a break from researching, I have to make myself busy through other means. Even though, I have ‘advocacy intern’ as a title at FLAC, I have receptionist’s duties. I think I would have enjoyed working as an advocate more than a receptionist if I were to undertake media campaigns, public speaking, and publishing research to influence a certain type of public policy and resource allocation decisions. I would prefer advocacy duties more since advocacy would likely consist of civic engagement and collective action interactions that would satisfy the hands on type of work setting that I enjoy. I do understand though that currently I am a summer intern who may not have the proper skills or experience to take on this role in a country that is foreign to me. Even as a receptionist, I still have troubles working and transferring calls to the information providers. I have never worked as a receptionist before and it is interesting to see that I am experiencing difficulties using the phone at the office. Therefore, I do not mind the current tasks that I am undertaking at FLAC because I am still learning.

From this internship experience, I feel more assured that I should look into careers that are both engaging, versatile, and out of the office in the near future. Going to a field that requires me to be in and out of the office would be ideal since it will allow me to work theoretically as well as hands on. Essentially, I did enjoy working and learning about FLAC and the kind of services they offer to Ireland’s citizens. I have learned so much about factoring human rights to the state’s budgeting system as well as issues regarding unemployment, family, and immigration. The FLAC organization is on-point in the type of work I will want to pursue in the future. I have always aspired to work in a field that serves justice to public citizens; a field that I believe is often disregarded by the state or politicians during policy decision-making. I believe that policy decision-making should use a human rights based approach where policies are design to fit people rather than a one size fits all policies that attempts to make people fit the system.

Concluding Observations on the Fourth Periodic Report of Ireland

Hello Everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping you all up to date! I’ve been busy with my internship and exploring Dublin! Essentially, I have only one more week left and will be flying out to Italy on August 3rd! I’m so excited to see my former resident Natsuki, who will be hosting me 🙂 But let’s finish some business first, here are the summary of the report the concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Ireland under the ICCPR! Happy reading 🙂

Human Rights Committee Considers Report of Ireland

The Human Rights Committee completed its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Ireland on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 15 July 2014

Issues Include:

  • Reform of police accountability
  • Easing restrictions on abortion
    • It is lawful to abort pregnancy in Ireland if the mother’s life is at risk
    • The Prime Minister apologized for the mass abuses committed in the Magdalene Laundries (institutions that house prostitutions)
    • Committee were also interested in the practice of symphysiotomy (a medical practice in Ireland when the pelvis of a pregnant woman is spread by doctors to deliver a baby)
  • Ryan report on child abuse
  • Corporal punishment
  • Women employment
  • Domestic Violence
  • Definition of terrorism
  • Special criminal courts and conditions for declaring a national emergency
  • Trafficking in persons and asylum seekers
  • Treatment of the Roma and Travelers minority groups

Overall, Nigel Rodley (chairman of the committee) stated that it had been a constructive and informative dialogue. Additionally, the Dublin Process had significantly helped strengthen the treaty bodies. However, some social issues such as the Magdalene Laundries, mother and baby homes, and child abuse require further work.

Delegation of Ireland included Representatives from:

  • Department of Justice and Equality
  • Office of the Attorney General
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN office at Geneva

Presentation of the Report

  • Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland’s Minister of Justice and Equality, presented the report
  • Ireland held a transparent and consultative process to prepare for the current report
  • A Chief Commissioner will be appointed shortly to administer policing of Ireland
  • The Gender Recognition Bill is being processed and will be published later this year
  • The Protection of Life during pregnancy 2013 had been enacted to regulate access to lawful abortion
  • On the issues of survivors of symphysiotomy, the affected women will continue to receive health and social care support from the State
  • Anti-discrimination: The Government committed that people of non-faith or minority religious backgrounds and publically identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons should not be deterred from training or employment as teachers in the State
  • Application of domestic violence orders to civil partners had been extended in 2010 and 2011
  • Reform aimed at establishing a single application procedure for asylum seekers (Currently, Ireland consist of 12% non-Irish population)

Questions by Experts

  • What would the annual budget of the new commission be?
  • What is the role of the Parliament in overseeing the work of the Commission and ensuring that it had the necessary resources?
  • What is Ireland’s stance on the oversight of the conduct of Irish corporations overseas?
  • While the 2013 act on abortion did represent a step forward regarding the life of the mother, it remained unclear what the ‘substantial risk’ for woman’s life included. Ireland needs to expand on the list of criteria for abortion.
  • What are the Government’s next steps regarding the offences of symphysiotomy?
  • Are there any alternative system other than prison sentences for those who are unable to pay financial debts?
  • Define terrorist act in Ireland. Would ‘subversive acts’ count as terrorism?
  • How did Ireland plan to improve the working of the police force of Ireland Ombudsman Commission?
  • As of October 2013, 50 out of 181 child abuse cases had been investigated. The Government of Ireland had taken many actions to protect children from abuse. Please provide more information on the Ryan implementation plan.
  • Please comment on victims of human trafficking, particularly asylum seekers. It was said that victims usually had less chances of acquiring permanent status in Ireland.
  • Please inform the Committee on the National Women Strategy 2008-2016 and provide information on rates of women in the work force.
  • What are the procedures for declaring a national emergency?

Response by the Delegation

  • All individual rights listed in the Covenant provisions in domestic law did not exist. However, the Government has identified a range of international obligations under various treaties and steered focus on implementation.
  • The Human Rights and Equality Commission had been created in accordance with the Paris Principles and took into consideration founding acts of other national human rights institutions. Though, the Commission is unable to take actions, but had promote international human rights standards (Only the Parliament had the authority to make laws).
  • A review of the migrant integration strategy was underway
  • The new supervisory body would start working in 2014 on oversight of policing. The Commission would work closely with the Ombudsman’s office.
  • Export licenses for Irish businesses abroad were granted only after extensive consultations and assurances that business practices were conducted in accordance with national and international law. The Irish Government is aware of the working conditions in Qatar, where a number of Irish businesses were active.
  • The Government had accepted recommendations to amend article 41.2.1 of the Constitution on gender equality and women in public life. There were efforts in increasing female representation on both public and corporate boards.
  • Ireland was committed to signing and ratifying the Istanbul Convention to illustrate its responsibilities on domestic violence.
  • New draft bill is underway to enable disabled individuals to exercise their capacities and be subject to affirmative action.
  • The Constitution provided national emergency in the time of war.
  • On the Magdalene Laundries, the recommendations of the independent McAleese Report had been fully accepted by the Government. The redress scheme was being implemented (346 payments had been made (12.4 million euros) out of the 750 victims who submitted redress)
  • On the Ryan implementation plan, there would be a new legislation in place that will make reporting child abuse mandatory. The report’s 99 recommendations were being implemented.
  • On abortion, the law had always attempted to seek a balance on the provisions between the life of the mother and of the unborn. There had been five referenda on this issue. National clinical guidelines were being developed to ensure universal approach in health centres across Ireland.
  • Then numbers of persons sent to prison for not being able to pay their debts had decreased. A new Fine Payments and Recovery Bill would be adopted in 2014.
  • On the issue of symphysiotomy, an ex-gratia scheme was in place costing an estimated of 34 million euros, where women were receiving support from the State
  • The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission would engage with Parliament and Justice Committee.

Questions by Experts

  • Just because Ireland is a dualist country, it should not be a reason to prevent the Human Rights Commission from investigating violation of the provisions not yet incorporated
  • How did the State plan to deal with the protection of non-Christian or atheist teachers?
  • Define ‘voluntary patients’ in mental hospitals? In most cases, people were sent to hospitals and treated without consent.
  • The Committee requested the State to ensure the Roman and the Travellers were recognized as minority ethnic groups; however, those communities tend to have lower life expectancy and higher suicide rates. The State party should take more proactive procedures.
  • Ireland was the only European Union Member State that did not complete procedures for examining asylum
  • On transgender persons, the gender recognition provisions could now be legally recognized. Did the authorities take a person’s gender identity into account when assigning them to prisons?
  • Recent opinion polls showed that 70 percent of the people supported abortion in cases of fetal anomaly, incest, and rape. The Committee prioritizes the right to life and health of the mother over the unborn baby. Was the situation that some women had to travel abroad to seek abortion not considered as discrimination against those who could not afford so?
  • Regarding symphysiotomy, had the women been consulted?

Response by the Delegation

  • There was now full in cell sanitation for all 560 prisoners and similar upgrades were being complete in other jails. For instance, Cork prison was being fully reconstructed and would meet international standards.
  • The new rights to detainees established on March 2014 allow access to counsel before questioning, and the right not to be interrogated without being able to receive legal advice first.
  • A complete ban on corporal punishment on the abuses of children in Ireland was currently under review. A new agency dedicated to child and family issues had been established in January 2014.
  • On rendition, the Government did not permit the usage of airspace and airports for purposes not in line with the dictates of international law.
  • A separate protection bill was proposed to speed the immigration bill for further progress. The Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for children did not have the authority to address asylum issues dealt with other public bodies. Asylum seekers could attend English language and Irish culture courses.
  • Due to the national consultation process, the Gender Recognition Bill was delayed. A person would become a legal adult at age 18 in Ireland; the bill provides various safeguards to persons under that age.
  • In terms of the right to education, no student could be forced to attend any religious school if it went against their parent’s will. Twenty new primary schools were to be established by 2017 (most of which would be multi denominational).
  • The Government was committed to holding a referendum to formally remove blasphemy from the list of criminal offences. Since the mid-nineteenth century, there had been no public prosecution for blasphemy.
  • It would require a new constitutional referendum to expand the list of grounds for abortion. Opinions on abortion had been changing and varied. There are agencies providing advice and support for women who experienced crisis pregnancies. However, the number of teenaged pregnancies and women travelling abroad for abortions had been significantly reduced.
    • Demand for three doctors to examine a pregnant woman who could be at risk of suicide
    • Information is required to be given to the woman in a counselling environment and provide her with available options with explanations
  • In terms of ethnic minorities, the Roman community consisted largely of European Union nationals, and were not registered or counted separately (estimated 3-5,000 people).
  • On symphysiotomy, procedures had been carried out without women’s knowledge or consent. It has also been conducted in times as an intervention in times of emergency.

Questions by Experts

  • Did the delegation believe that a neutral studying environment should be provided in denominational schools outside of religious instruction?
  • Was there an independent complaints system in place from prisons

Concluding Remarks

  • Frances Fitzgerald (Minister for Justice and Equality of Ireland)
    • The Government had an ambitious reform agenda and Ireland had made significant progress
    • Strong representation of the Irish civil sector was valued by the Government
    • The Government would consider expanding the independent complaints system to ‘B’ complaints
  • Nigel Rodley (Chairman of the Committee)
    • It had been an excellent, constructive and informative dialogue
    • The delegation had worked hard to provide answers to various inquires by the Committee
    • Ireland was a country where human rights were part of the public discourse
    • The Dublin process had helped strengthened the treaty bodies
      • Assisted with decision making on mental health challenges
      • Committee member were still concerned about the system of special courts
      • Made improvements on prison stock
      • Other issues that need further work: Magdalene Laundries, mother and baby homes, and child abuse
      • Mother’s life is prioritized over the unborn; however, it is unfortunate that the revised abortion provision did not extend to the health of the woman



The concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Ireland presented many recommendations on social rights issues such as gender equality, trafficking, and education. It is now up to the States whether these recommendations will be considered and implemented into Ireland’s policies. For instance, the Committee reiterates its prior concern regarding the circumstances under which women can lawfully have an abortion. In particular, the concern was regarding the criminalisation of abortion under the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormality and serious risks to the health of the mother. The recommendation proposed the State to revise its legislation on abortion as well as to provide additional exceptions in cases mentioned. Furthermore, Paul Rowe from Educate Together, states that more work is required on the issue of implementing non-denominational schools for parents that do not associate with religion. Currently, there are no non-denominational schools in Ireland and progress has been slow. Additionally, Broden Giambrone speaks on behalf of the gender equality issue where he mentions that Ireland is the only member state with no process or progress on the Gender Recognition Bill that was proposed since 2008. He states that it is a violation of human rights for an individual to choose between staying married versus being legally recognised. Thus, the recommendation proposed the States to take concrete steps to not only implement the recommendations of encouraging greater participation of women in both public and private sectors, but to also ensure that transgender persons and representatives of transgender organisations are consulted in the finalization of the Gender Recognition Bill to ensure their rights are fully guaranteed, including the right to legal recognition without the requirement of obtaining a divorce. Essentially, there are many works that still need to be done regarding all social issues proposed in the fourth periodic International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Report. As Ireland’s Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality states, ‘equal countries do better.’

Ireland Examined by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Greetings from Dublin!!!

I’m sorry for not updating you all in a consistent manner, I’ve been so busy! I’m having loads of craic (pronounced as “crack”) aka fun though 🙂 Only two more weeks left of Ireland!!!

So today, I was fortunate enough to watch a live webcast of the Conference on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights held in Geneva. Ireland is currently being examined under this Convention specifically on issues such as:

1. Regulation of Private Businesses
2. Regulation on Abortion
3. Human Trafficking
4. Discrimination and Equal Rights
5. Police System

Essentially, UN experts told Ireland needs new rights protections. Tomorrow, they will continue negotiating whether social justice issues meet expectations of the Treaty. It was a great experience personally to see behind the scenes work in preparing for this Conference (Ireland examined every 4 years) because I have read and learned about the ICCPR during my undergrad in Berkeley. Overall, I’m glad to have witness history in the making!

Stay tuned on Ireland’s Examination and here’s the link to get a feel of the outcome from today’s conference:



Fair is Not Fair Enough: EU Employment and Social Situation

Greetings from Dublin!!! After this week, I will only have 3 more weeks of internship. I know, crazy right?!? Days are moving so quickly and this just means I have to make the most of it. I am so stoked to let you all know that I will be traveling to Cork tomorrow morning until Sunday night. But before you all cheer for me, check out what I learned today through the EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Report I have included in this post! Thanks 🙂

PS: Ya all should follow me on instagram at fred.ella to join in on what I can describe as the most phenomenal adventure yet!

Similar to most social justice issues, the number of unemployed is unevenly distributed across the low income household population. Even though the EU labour market is improving for the first time since 2011, it is important to note that long term unemployment continues to increase. Currently, there are still concerns about the quality of jobs created as employment growth mainly consists of temporary and part-time employments. However, statistics illustrate that there have been significant increases in the service sector, particularly for skilled labourers at the end of 2013 which registered a growth of 0.2% in the first quarter of 2014 (+ 0.7% compared to the first quarter of 2013).The economic and social situation of EU households has improved in Hungary, Portugal, and Ireland, and to a lesser extent in Greece and Spain. Nevertheless, unemployment rates are still high in most Member states.

Young vs. Older Population Employment
In addition to the low income household population, the labour market remains a difficult situation for young people within the age range of 15-24. For instance, youth unemployment continues to be at a high level of 22.5% in April 2014. This means about 2.5 million young women and 2.9 million young men are not working in the EU. Despite improvements in about two thirds of Member States throughout the year until April 2014, significant disparities continue to exist across the EU. Most feel discouraged to look for work due to high unemployment among the EU youth. Furthermore, while 35% of employment for young adults aged 25-39 persistently stagnated since 2009, employment for older age groups (55-64) continued to grow. A constant flow of low skilled unemployment is on the rise up to the fourth quarter of 2013 and it has become an issue for the EU since low-skilled workers account for a quarter of the EU adult population. In essence, the employment rate continued to increase for older people and decrease for younger population groups by the end of 2013.

Gender Gaps and Emigration
Although recent data illustrates that gender gaps have improved in the work force, more women are underemployed in contrast to men. Records show that large differences still exist in terms of labour market participation and working hours. This is perhaps due to domestic work and family planning related constraints. Moreover, many people from southern countries move to Germany and the UK. These countries have become the top two destination countries for intra-EU movers since 2009. Some would also head towards Austria, Belgium, and the Nordic countries, but much less towards Spain and Ireland. Most migrants consist of younger women whose employment situation varies depending on their country of origin. Since employment rates declined between 2008 and 2012, non-EU migrants were affected more than any other groups. Commonly, the country destination prioritizes their citizens in the workforce; thus, non-EU migrants are more likely to be unemployed than native born. Therefore, migrants are more likely to have temporary or part-time jobs and are often over-qualified for the jobs they do. Migrants tend to be less likely to access help from the public employment services; hence, migrants who move within the EU need more support. With high numbers of emigration within and outside the EU countries, the unemployment rate is expected to decrease slightly to 10.1% in the EU and 11.4% in the euro area in 2015.

Increase and Decrease in Service Sectors
In the first quarter of 2014, employment increased predominantly in knowledge intensive service sectors such as profession and scientific field (+1.9%), public administration, arts and entertainment (+1.0%), human health and social work activities (+0.8%), and information and communication (+0.5%). For example, employment in the information and communication increased noticeably in Estonia (+27.3%), Poland (+18.8%), and Latvia (+15.1%). The number of people working in the public administration, defence, education, human health and social work have also increased in most Member States in places such as Hungary (+6.5%), Portugal (+4.6%), and Malta (+4.5%). Fundamentally, employment growth exists within sectors such as accommodation and food service activities (+5.2%), in wholesale and retail trade (3.5%), and human health and social work related fields (+3.3%). Ireland, followed by Malta and Latvia, had the highest employment rate increase of 1.8 % point change (pp), while significant decreases occurred in Cyprus by -3.1 pp and Greece by -2.1 pp (see chart 14).

Long Term Unemployment
As stated in the beginning of this summary, long term unemployment continues to increase moderately. About 13 million people (53% of the active population in the EU) had been unemployed for at least one year. This means around 60% of long term unemployed people had been jobless for at least two consecutive years. In the last quarter of 2013, 3.1% of the active EU population were idle. For instance, more than 10% of the active population in Member States such as Greece and Spain have been unable to find a job for one year or longer. However, unemployment rates have decreased in Italy, Hungary and Latvia, and remained stable in EU Member States such as Croatia, Slovakia, and Portugal. Therefore, over 10 million EU citizens of working age emigrated and were living in another EU country to search for a stable labour market. Furthermore, higher minimum wages may not always be desirable for the overall good of society. The downside of having higher minimum wage standards is that it may discourage employers from using low skill workers at a low wage in which minimum wage policies are trying to assist. Instead, minimum wages counteracts its initial intention of assisting low skill workers and reduces the jobs available to them.

Due to higher market incomes and social benefits, households’ incomes improved for the first time in four years; however, growth is still weak. Market incomes include compensation of employees, compensation of self-employed, and property incomes that are supported by an increase in social benefits and transferred to the households. Due to the economic recovery and trends of the labour market in the second half of 2013, incomes earned from work have improved and social benefits have been added to advance market incomes. However, it is vital to note that incomes have also continued to worsen in other Member States such as Czech Republic, Greece, and Ireland. Financial distress has eased for middle income households in recent months, but those who are in lower income households are struggling. Therefore, the financial distress gap between low income households and other households has widened. This means 10% of adults in low income household are forced to run into debt, while 15% must use their savings to cover current expenditure. Although financial distress waned from 2010-2013, low income households still faced great difficulty finding employment.


The Best Ice Cream Yet…

The Best Ice Cream Yet...

Hello from Dublin!!!!

So today, I went to Murphy’s Ice Cream shop and had the best ice cream ever. I recommend the sea salt and the rum and raisin flavors! But all of the other flavors are delicious also! Murphy’s make their ice cream from naturally and locally produced ingredients. They use local cream, fresh farm milk, free range eggs, and organic sugar. I recommended the sea salt ice cream since they make their own sea salt from Dingle sea water. Here’s the link: Go check it out if you can! Oh and the picture attached is actually an advertisement that my group and I produced for our internship module class. The prompt was to create an ad for an Irish product!! Happy to say that our ad made it to first place!! 😀

Help Out Asylum Seekers!!!

Hello Everyone,

I’m already two weeks in working at the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC). For those of you who don’t know about FLAC, it is an independent human rights organization dedicated to the realization of equal access to justice for all. Priority areas of FLAC include: civil legal aid, social welfare law reform, and debt law reform, but FLAC offers many other kinds of advices as well (such as divorce and prisoner’s cases).

Today, I learned about an organization designed to assist asylum seekers. Here is a summary of a written report I have produced! Happy reading!

Reception and Integration Agency: Annual Report 2013

The Reception and Integration Agency (IRA) manages the accommodation and ancillary services to asylum seekers under the Direct Provision system that provides asylum seeker residents with full board accommodation free of utility or other cost. Essentially, the RIA ensures that necessities of residents are met during the period in which their applications for international protections are being processed; whereas, they would have been treated as homeless a decade ago.

There has been a significant decline in the number of new asylum applicants arriving in Ireland and the number of persons RIA is accommodating. A decline of 92% of new asylum applicants (from 11, 634 in 2002 to 946 in 2013) are recorded; thus, it also resulted in a decline of 37% (2,642 persons) from 2008 to 2013 in the numbers being accommodated by the RIA. More than 50% of the applications for declaration as a refugee come from ‘other’ countries and Nigeria is second largest. In which many of the cases are given negative recommendation and failed in processing for completion.

Currently, there are 34 RIA housing centres in 16 counties accommodating 4,360 asylum seekers. Many of these residents are of 26-35 years of age who are single males or widows with no children. Furthermore, 26 centres are commercially owned while 7 centres are state owned (located in: Clare, Cork, Killarney, Tralee, and Athlone). Most RIA residents reside in Dublin, Cork, and Meath. Currently, there are 4,360 occupants out of the contracted capacity of 5,047. Overall, RIA spends about 55.228 million Euros during 2013 for centres, preschool, electricity, gas, and transportation.

In addition to accommodate asylum seekers, RIA provides human trafficking victims safe accommodations. For instance, 48 victims of human trafficking in 2012, 8 of which were asylum seekers, were assisted. Moreover, children of asylum seekers are granted free access to primary and post-primary education and transportation. Many of the children are ages 5-12 years of age are currently attending primary school. Hence, children of asylum seekers residing in RIA centres are linked with local schools, while adult asylum seekers are able to obtain free access to adult literacy and English classes if they do not have an entitlement to work.

A Government decision established in 2 March, 2004 put forth a responsibility on the RIA to assist with the return of destitute citizens of certain EU states. Individuals are accessed by the Asylum Seeker and New Communities Unit of the Department of Social Protection and referred to RIA. Referrals can be made from local community welfare officers and employment exchanges around the country; however, this is rare. Though, RIA does not accept direct referrals from Embassies, third party or NGO groups, or by individuals themselves. Additionally, the RIA is not responsible for housing homeless non-Irish nationals. The role of RIA is to provide voluntary transport back to their home State for destitute Accession Countries 12 nationals. If needed, RAI will accommodate the person(s) for one or two nights in Dublin Centre and provide them with transport home as soon as possible. In 2013, there were 323 return flights for citizens (a majority consisting of Romanians).