Articles tagged with: Eugene Quinn


on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge


John Guiney SJ and Eugene Quinn

During 2015, in excess of one million refugees and migrants risked their lives in crossing the Mediterranean Sea to enter the European Union. More than 3,700 people, one quarter of them children, died by drowning during the attempt. Europe’s experience of increased forced migration is just one element of a global phenomenon of  escalating displacement of people, as a result of conflict, persecution, extreme poverty, and other human rights violations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are now, worldwide, almost 60 million displaced persons, the highest number since World War II. 

Time to Act: Implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process

on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Issue 78 The Search for Refuge, Poverty & Inequality

PdfIconTime to Act: Implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process

Eugene Quinn


The Statement of Government Priorities 2014–2016, which was issued by the Fine Gael and Labour Party Coalition Government in July 2014, included a commitment to ‘treat asylum seekers with the humanity and respect that they deserve ... [and] reduce the length of time the applicant spends in the system ...’.1  

This commitment came against a background where the Irish system of Direct Provision for asylum seekers was featuring regularly in the media, with reports from around the country of protests, enforced transfers, hunger strikes and calls for the closure of accommodation centres. The growing concern about the Direct Provision system was encapsulated in a comment by the then Minister of State with special responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, who said: ‘None of us can stand over it, it’s just not acceptable’.2 

In mid-September 2014, a roundtable consultation was held by the government ministers with responsibility for the operation of the asylum and immigration systems in Ireland to hear the concerns and analyses of NGOs working in the area. Subsequently, in October, the Government established a Working Group which was asked to undertake the first comprehensive review of the protection process, including the Direct Provision system introduced in 2000, and report back to Government with recommendations.3

Forced Migration: A Challenge for European Solidarity

on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Issue 74 Issues for the New EU Parliament?, Poverty & Inequality, International Issues

migrationA boat carrying African asylum seekers and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Italy. © UNHCR/L. BoldriniThe carnage of asylum seekers and migrants making the perilous journey to a better life makes frequent headlines; thousands die every year in the Mediterranean alone. Far too little is done to mitigate the risks such migrants face. Poverty, vulnerability and war are rife in our times, but compassion is in short supply.1

Lives on Hold: Living Long-Term in Direct Provision Accommodation

on Thursday, 18 April 2013. Posted in Issue 71 Waiting for Asylum Decisions, Poverty & Inequality

Canteen in direct provision centre © D. Speirs

Canteen in direct provision centre
© D. Speirs

Direct Provision

Prior to 2000, people seeking asylum in Ireland were able to avail of mainstream social welfare payments, such as supplementary welfare allowance and rent supplement; in other words, they were assessed for entitlement along the same criteria as people already resident in the country. However, in the late 1990s the arrival of record numbers of people seeking the protection of the Irish State led to a change in policy in relation to the provision of accommodation and income for applicants during the processing of their claim. The result was the introduction of a system of ‘direct provision’.

The Refugee Convention Sixty Years On: Relevant or Redundant?

on Thursday, 15 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble, International Issues, Housing Policy

Sixty years ago the international community agreed a framework for the protection of refugees, when a diplomatic conference in Geneva adopted the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Today, the protection of those compelled to leave their own state, and seek asylum in another, continues to present formidable challenges. The scale of those challenges, and the perceived inadequacies of the Refugee Convention’s response to them, have led some critics to argue that the Convention is now outdated, unworkable and irrelevant.1


Working Notes Issue 68 Editorial

on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. Posted in Issue 68 After the Housing Bubble

pdf iconWorking Notes: Issue 68 Editorial

The Housing Policy Statement, issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in June 2011, declared that the ‘overall strategic objective’ of the Coalition Government’s housing policy would be ‘to enable all households access good quality housing appropriate to household circumstances and in their particular community of choice’. In reality, this is a re-statement, an updated wording, of the long-standing official aim of Irish housing policy; its most immediate predecessor was worded thus: ‘to enable every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment and as far as possible at the tenure of its choice’.

We are now all too aware of how readily the core objective of official housing policy was lost sight of during the housing boom, and of how the interests of investors, developers and land-owners, and the concern to maximise returns from housing-related taxes and charges, took priority over protecting and promoting the right of all citizens to have access to adequate housing.

The critical issue now is whether the newly restated ‘overall objective’ of housing policy will actually be implemented. Will it be allowed to influence and shape all Government actions which impact on housing, including planning laws and regulations; taxation policies affecting investors, developers and home owners; the operation of NAMA; the State’s own role in providing or subsidising social housing? In the face of the demands of vested interests, will those responsible for implementing the housing policy be able to fulfil the promise contained in the Statement that, in the future, policy ‘will neither force nor entice people through fiscal or other stimuli to treat housing as a commodity and a means of wealth creation’?

Three of the articles in this issue of Working Notes highlight some of the consequences of failures of past, and current, housing policy in Ireland.

In the opening article, Michael Punch considers the ‘housing vulnerability’ that is now the experience of tens of thousands of households in Ireland, instancing the mortgage debt crisis, the dramatic rise in the number of households on the waiting lists for social housing, and the precarious situation of the many households on low incomes in poor- quality private rented accommodation.

Peter McVerry SJ writes about the increase in the overall number of people becoming homeless and the rise in the number unable to access even emergency accommodation. He points out that the 2008 Homeless Strategy promised a new era for services for homeless people, with 2010 set as the target date for achieving two key objectives, namely, an end to the need for any person to sleep rough or to remain in emergency shelter for longer than six months. He attributes the failure to achieve these targets to the decision to rely on the private sector to provide accommodation for people moving out of homelessness, rather than the direct provision of social housing through local authorities and voluntary housing bodies.

Patrick Hume SJ draws attention to the very limited consumer protection offered to house buyers in Ireland, and argues that in many respects the classic defence of ‘let the buyer beware’ continues to prevail in the property market. He notes the extremely inadequate enforcement system in regard to the State’s own building regulations, and urges action to strenghten this system and address the many other deficits in protection for home buyers.

In the final article in this issue, Eugene Quinn reminds us that 2011 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. He notes that critics of the Convention claim that it fails to meet many of the demands now being placed on it as a result of the changing and increasingly complex nature of displacement, but he argues that its deficiencies do not mean it is irrelevant or unworkable, though it does require constant review. The Convention, he says, has enabled millions to find refuge over the past sixty years, and it provides a solid foundation on which to build supplementary systems of protection for those who fall outside its remit.



Working Notes Issue 65 Editorial

on Thursday, 09 June 2011. Posted in Issue 65 JRS: 30 Years of Serving Refugees

Working Notes Issue 65 Editorial

Who are the ‘vulnerable’ in Ireland today? There has been a lot of talk about ‘protecting the vulnerable’ in the lead up to the recent Budget. So many vested interests, politicians, trade unions and others now appropriate the word it begins to lose its sense of meaning. Yet within our society there are clearly people who are vulnerable, whose needs are not represented, whose concerns are urgent and whose voices are not heard.

The Way Forward for Ireland: A Values Added Tax Policy?

on Thursday, 02 June 2011. Posted in Issue 66 New Dáil: New Dawn?



pdf iconThe Way Forward for Ireland: A Values Added Tax Policy?

Eugene Quinn

April, 2011


The maintenance of a low tax regime was a key tenet of national policy during the years of Ireland’s economic boom. However, there were also demands from many quarters for improved public services and for greater protection for the most vulnerable. For a time, Ireland appeared to achieve the impossible – remaining a low tax economy while spending ever greater amounts on public services. It was a mirage.

International events in 2008 lit the fuse to a crisis that would ultimately overwhelm the State’s finances. But at the heart of our woes was not the international financial crisis but a home-grown problem. Ireland found itself facing a double-sided structural deficit problem, in which the crash in tax revenues was not being mitigated by equivalent reductions in public spending. In particular, the massive growth in unemployment represented a dual blow, with the consequent reduction in tax revenue occurring alongside a huge increase in the number of people dependent on the State for social welfare payments.


The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008: Well-Founded Fears?

on Wednesday, 29 October 2008. Posted in Issue 59 In Recession who will be left Stranded?, 2008

Eugene Quinn
November 2008


Right to Stay Campaign

Right to stay, right to work campaign

© D. Speirs

pdf The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008: Well-Founded Fears?



The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 has come before the Dáil at a time when there has been a significant reduction in the number of new asylum claims being made in Ireland. In line with European trends, applications have dropped from a peak of 11,634 in 2002 to fewer than 4,000 in 2007.

Announcing the publication of the Bill on 29 January 2008, the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Brian Lenihan TD, said:


Integration: A Challenge in Principle, in Policy and in Practice

on Monday, 05 February 2007. Posted in Issue 54 Immigration and Integration: Realities and Challenges, 2007

February 2007

Eugene Quinn is National Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (Ireland)

The economic boom of the Celtic Tiger years has transformed Ireland from a country of origin into a country of destination. Sustained and stellar economic growth from the early 1990s not only persuaded thousands of Irish nationals to return but attracted non Irish national migrant workers in large numbers. They were responding to the recruitment efforts of Irish employers who, faced with the significant skill and labour shortages that were a consequence of the boom, began to look overseas to fill vacancies.

Mental Illness in Irish Prisons:

on Friday, 21 April 2006. Posted in Issue 52 Mental Illness in Irish Prisons: A Solitary Experience?, 2006

Eugene Quinn

April, 2006

Health Care Standards in Irish Prisons
In June 2004, the Irish Prison Service published a statement of Health Care Standards, covering the care of those detained in Irish prisons and places of detention. The core aims of the Standards are stated as being: "to provide prisoners with access to the same quality and range of instruments to which they would be eligible within the general community" and to give priority to the promotion of the health of prisoners.1  
These aims accord with Article 12 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which recognises "the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health". Ireland has ratified the ICESCR, which under international law obliges the State to ensure that the rights enshrined in the Covenant are guaranteed for all persons in its territory.

To Detain or Not To Detain?

on Friday, 09 December 2005. Posted in Issue 51 Refugees and Asylum Seekers: No to the Silence of Indifference!, 2005

December, 2005

Eugene Quinn and Renaud de Villaine

"Eugene Quinn is Director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and Acting National Director of JRS Ireland. Renaud de Villaine is Policy and Advocacy Officer for JRS Europe"

In January 2004, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, heavily criticised the policies of the European Union towards refugees and migrants. In a speech to the Members of the European Parliament, he spoke of ‘offshore barriers’ and of ‘refused entry because of restrictive interpretations’ of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. He said that asylum seekers are ‘detained for excessive periods in unsatisfactory conditions’.1

A Vision for Ireland: A Question Of Tax?

Written by Eugene Quinn on Monday, 23 June 2003. Posted in Issue 43 Juvenile Crime: Are Harsher Sentences the Solution?, 2002

June 2002

Eugene Quinn , an actuary working part-time with the CFJ, examines issues of fairness in taxation.


Taxation is always a vexing question and in the modern Ireland particularly so. The role of taxation policy in stimulating the Celtic Tiger is disputed. The neoliberal view is that the creation of a low tax environment was integral to our economic success and is an essential ingredient if that success is to continue. This premise has not gone unchallenged. The opposing view points to factors that were funded through tax revenues such as the supply of an educated labour force and the presence of an adequate infrastructure as major contributors to our economic growth in the period. These differing perspectives bring into focus tensions at the core of taxation policy.

Falling between two pillars: The prospect for pensioners in Ireland?

Written by Eugene Quinn on Friday, 04 July 2003. Posted in Issue 42 Pensions Time Bomb? Equity and Justice in the Pensions Regime, 2002


Eugene Quinn, an actuary working part-time with the CFJ, examines issues of equity and justice in the pensions regime.
1.      Introduction
Pensions are important to everybody. There is widespread public myopia with regard to the importance of pensions, as the consequences of neglect are so distant. For the vast majority of the population however pensions will be the chief determinant of their income in their old age. Our choices now, both as individuals and as a society, will affect how we will live as we get older. Will we have enough to live with security and dignity in a society with higher expectations of life? Will there be large income inequalities between the rich and poor of our elderly?

The War in Iraq - Is it still worth working for peace?

Written by Eugene Quinn on Thursday, 10 April 2003. Posted in Issue 45 Social Partnership: Is it a Just Structure?, 2003

Eugene Quinn and Seamus O'Gorman SJ


"It was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smouldering car. Two missiles from an American jet killed them all - by my estimate, more than 20 Iraqi civilians, torn to pieces before they could be \'liberated\' by the nation that destroyed their lives. Who dares, I ask myself, to call this \'collateral damage\'?"
Robert Fisk’s visceral description of the horrors of the Market Square bombing in Baghdad (The Independent, March 27th, 2003) shatters any illusions about what the reality of war means in terms of human lives. The speed with which war arrived has been bewildering. It seemed one day we were debating the justness and the legitimacy of military intervention, marveling at the spontaneous and unexpected opposition of millions worldwide to the prospect of war. The next we were sitting helplessly by as war enveloped Iraq.

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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.