THREE out of four Irish people surveyed admitted they had never spoken to anyone who was living in a Direct Provision (DP) centre.
he revelation came as the Sanctuary Runners not-for-profit movement launched a special report on attitudes both within the Irish community and those living in the DP system.
The Sanctuary Runners was established in Cork in 2018 by broadcaster Graham Clifford and photographer Clare Keogh.
It works to foster solidarity, friendship and respect between those living in Ireland and those resident within the DP system.
Its work has been endorsed by the participation of Irish sports stars including Rob and Marian Heffernan, Sonia O’Sullivan, Olive Loughnane, Tomás O’Sé, Sanita Puspure, Lizzie Lee and Clare Lambe.
A special survey, conducted for the Sanctuary Runners, revealed that 74pc of people who joined their programme admitted they had never spoken to a person in the DP system.
Some 52pc of people surveyed admitted they did not even know where the nearest DP centre to their home was located before becoming a Sanctuary Runner.
The survey also found that 85pc of people within the DP system said the work of Sanctuary Runners had made them feel welcome in Ireland.
The study also assessed the ongoing work of the group which operates on a no-cost basis and does not fundraise.
It found that 81pc of Irish respondents said they have forged friendships with DP residents through the Sanctuary Runners programme of activities.
Some 61pc of members within the DP system said they felt their engagement with the Irish solidarity initiative had improved both their fitness levels and mental health.
Remarkably, 42pc of Sanctuary Runners members residing within the DP system had never run before joining the charity’s programme of events.
“The findings back up what we have been seeing on the ground for the last two years and offer a snapshot of why this initiative has been so successful and is so important,” Mr Clifford said.
“It also explains why we are now working on developing similar groups in other European countries.
“This group is about solidarity rather than charity.”
The Government has committed to ending the controversial DP system.
The temporary or ‘interim’ arrangement was established in 2000 to house asylum seekers while they await the processing of their applications to remain in Ireland.
Last November there were approximately 6,000 people in 38 DP centres located across 17 counties with a further 1,500 housed in emergency accommodation, hotels and B&Bs.
Some 2,250 of those living in DP are children.
Source: Irish News