A company which supplies services to Direct Provision asylum centres has defended its stance by handing out leaflets on a university campus.
Aramark Corporation, which supplies catering services to three Direct Provision centres, had staff distribute flyers around the University of Limerick (UL) this week after some students questioned the ethics of companies directly involved with facilities that house refugees.
Aramark also provides a number of catering services around the campus of UL.
The leaflet, titled The Facts, defends the company’s role in Direct Provision, saying: “Aramark has no say, influence or involvement in the establishment of this system or in the residency or asylum application process.”
The move came after some at UL had become increasingly vocal about their objection to Direct Provision and advised students of Aramark’s services to the centres.
Some of the students who attend UL currently live in Direct Provision, and some have criticised the university for calling itself “a sanctuary university” while contracting those who profit from the centres.
UL student Clodagh Guerin said the leaflet drop by Aramark may have unintentionally drawn further attention to the company’s role in Direct Provision to students who were previously unaware.
“UL’s student life centre started taking a formal stance against Direct Provision,” she said.
“The ties UL have with Aramark are obviously of huge concern, and we’re urging students and staff to be careful and thoughtful about where they spend their money.
“Aramark’s position is one we do not support, and we are encouraging people to terminate their support of them as a company.
“Responding to the article in the student paper, and to UL’s stance in general, by having baristas and caterers hand out these flyers, they have shown that they feel the pressure of our voices.
“We are against Direct Provision, and no flyer will change our minds, or distract us from the truth.”
A spokesman for Aramark admitted that the leaflets were sent out in response to student criticism of the company.
“A small number of students at UL began questioning the services we provide to the Department of Justice & Equality. We have been providing information at our locations to ensure that our customers are fully informed of the facts,” he said.
The university has defended its stance to contract Aramark, but said it does not agree with Direct Provision.
A spokesman said: “University of Limerick is a sanctuary university that offers those living in Direct Provision a chance to go to university, with 17 scholarships being funded this year.
“The university has serious concerns about the Government’s plan for asylum seekers, especially with how they are housed, and believes that they should be afforded the opportunity to work and receive state social services like the rest of the population.
“University of Limerick is aware of the concerns of the students and have raised these with Aramark.”
Direct Provision is the current system of accommodating asylum seekers in Ireland.
Asylum seekers are housed in residential institutions known as Direct Provision centres across the country, with 32 facilities in total.
Seven of the centres are state-owned but the majority are run on a for-profit basis by private contractors.
In recent years there have been media reports about concerns regarding the level of care and cleanliness as well as availability of food in the centres, which are usually closed off to the wider public.
- Press Association