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Get the last of the Direct Provision Christmas Trees

The latest NGO gimmick to promote the campaign for people to be allowed avoid the normal process of determining whether they have a legitimate claim to asylum here is to plant 8,000 trees. Native trees. Which is possibly some sort of in joke among the NGO sector.

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) is behind this latest one, under it’s Putting Down Roots initiative. They are planting the trees with the aim of getting people to sponsor a tree at €5 a pop to raise a target of €40,000 to support people who are in Direct Provision accommodation to enter third level education.

The Irish Refugee Council had an income of €970,284 in 2020. Of that not insignificant sum, €263,152 came directly from the taxpayer. In common with other NGOs of course they also dip their beak into public funds that are recycled through other publicly funded agencies.

The EU bungs them just over 100 grand, and various Woke foundations such as the Tomar Trust, Oak Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies ensure that they won’t have to resort to pan handling. The IRC also do a bit of landlording as well apparently which brought them in €129,461 in rent last year and they sold some of their assets for a profit of €82,757.

So, they have lots of money then to be handing out to refugees you would imagine. Well apparently not, because according to their accounts, their outreach has only managed to assist 191 people with grants over the past five years.

So what, cries the taxpayer, do they do with all the bread, man? Well, it’s no mystery really because like almost every other major NGO they spend the bulk of it on their own wages. €642,782 to employ 17 staff in 2020. Around 65% of the Irish Refugee Council’s income goes to paying themselves.

Now, no doubt they feel that they are doing great work and are fully deserving to be paid by Joe and Josie taxpayer. So much so that they seem to include a lot or perhaps even all of those staff costs under the somewhat quaint rubric of “charitable activities”.

I don’t know about you but I would not be inclined to sponsor such a clearly thriving company to plant a tree. Surely, they must have a few euro lying around to look after this, especially as it seems they won’t have to even shell out for all of the trees themselves seen that Tullamore Credit Union have bought 100 of them – presumably after consulting their members.

All the other groups taking part in this including Easy Treesie and the Museum of Everyone would also appear to be kept going in part or in total by public funding. The scenario is that the taxpayer pays these people to do all this charitable stuff and then they try to charge us again do do more than hire staff. Come on now….

But, of course, the real point of the exercise has nothing to do with planting trees or even assisting people in furthering their education. It is simply another means – happily facilitated by the publicly supported broadcaster – to basically agitate on a political issue, namely the closure of Direct Provision and the elimination of even the current lax procedures which are supposed to determine whether people who come here seeking asylum are genuine or not.

The IRC claims that each of the 8,000 trees represents one person in Direct Provision. Which also raises another interesting point. Where have all these people come from?

Figures provided by the Department of Justice show that there have been a total of 7,795 applications for international protection here between January 1, 2019 and the end of August 2021. In the same period, 1,688 people had their final appeals rejected. The average length of stay in Direct Provision in 2017 was 23 months according to a Departmental review.

It would appear then that there are perhaps rather more people in Direct Provision than there maybe ought to be if all of the above figures are supposed to complement one another. There are certainly far more people in the system than there ought to be given that the vast majority come here from countries such as Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe which are not deemed to be unsafe countries for the purposes intended under international protection.

If people are serious about addressing Direct Provision and ensuring that asylum is reserved for those genuinely in danger – rather than wishing to get a job as a truck driver as we recently referred to – then the vast bulk of those in the system could be processed quickly rather than it taking such a long time and costing so much money through often seemingly endless appeals.

But, in fact, the people who use Direct Provision as an emotional lever are intent on none of the above. What they want is a lifting of any real restrictions on anyone who manages to come here, often after spending years away from the place they are supposed to be fleeing, and then being allowed to stay here and fully supported by the state.

Let’s face it, given the attitude of the political establishment that is a battle they have already won. Perhaps the network of publicly funded migrancy NGOs feel it necessary to justify their existence through extracting more of our money through schemes such as the tree planting, but it’s over-egging the pudding.

It may get the point where people question either the motivations or finances of the costly and seemingly inefficient NGO sector but in the meantime its doing very well for itself.

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