Lives in Limbo – Asylum Seekers in Ireland





A section entitled “Lives in Limbo” on the The Irish Times website details the lives of migrants (asylum-seekers) residing in Ireland’s direct provision centres. It contains information on these centres and the current situation of those residing in direct provision. It states that the average time a person resides in direct provision in Ireland is three years and eight months. Also, Ireland has one of the lowest acceptance rates for asylum seekers in Europe.

The most gripping aspect of “Lives in Limbo” are the photographs of migrants, the photographs of living spaces, and a series of short, but gripping interview videos. Providing public access to photographs and videos of these migrants literally puts a face on the often abstract concept of asylum. The videos provide heart-rending accounts of life in direct provision. These people speak about not being allowed to work, mental health issues, and the lack of space, privacy, and independence. Most especially concerning are the video accounts of children who are faced with uncertainty on a daily basis. The children speak quite eloquently about not living in a “normal” home environment and about how they do not have space to play with friends or to study for school.

The Irish Times also published a map of the location of these centres in Ireland. In 2013 there were 34 centres with a capacity for 5,000 residents. A link is also provided to the Asylum Archive, which lists these centres and contains photographs of the buildings.


“Lives in Limbo” concludes with links to articles that were published in the Irish Times on various aspects of this topic. Of significant interest are “How asylum became a business” and “Could direct provision be the subject of a future government apology“. This month, the Irish President Michael D. Higgins criticised direct provision accommodation in Ireland, stating: “The system of Direct Provision by which they [asylum seekers] are put in to places of accommodation and may remain there for eight to ten years is totally unsatisfactory, almost in every aspect of it.”


A Guide to Philosophy and Learning in University


The Pink Guide to Philosophy, introduces philosophy in a clear and concise manner and discusses various myths about philosophy. Although this guide is aimed at philosophy students, I think that this resource would be really useful to all social science undergraduates, as it offers a range of advice on studying in university. Beginning with ten tips on studying, the site then outlines “how to read”, “how to write”, “writing do’s and don’ts”, and “how to revise”. Compiled by Professor Helena de Bres, this website offers practical advice and is a great resource for students.

50 Influential Books of the Last 50 Years



SuperScholar lists the most influential books of the last 50 years. Note that this is not a list of the most enjoyable books, but the books that had most influence in society.

Books from this list that I plan on reading in the near future include:

Chinua Achebe (1958) Things Fall Apart

Toni Morrison (1987) Beloved

Allan Bloom (1987) The Closing of the American Mind

Umberto Eco (1980) The Name of the Rose

Daniel Goleman (1995) Emotional Intelligence



Publication: PhD Training


An article that I wrote with my colleagues Adrienne Hobbs and Jackie S. McGloughlin has been published in GeoJournal. It is part of a Geojournal Special Issue entitled “Rethinking the PhD in Geography”, which examines international PhD programs in geography. Seventeen papers are included in this Special Issue which critique PhD programmes and examine the impact of neoliberalism on the PhD degree. Our article explores PhD training in Ireland, with specific reference to Maynooth University. The abstract is below and the full paper is available here.

Improving formal research training: developments at NUI Maynooth, Ireland

Abstract: As elsewhere, Irish universities are now actively rethinking the PhD degree and striving for improved student experiences and outcomes. We present here a student perspective on reform in the Irish system, using the case of the Department of Geography at the National University of Ireland Maynooth for illustration. Specifically we focus upon the introduction of compulsory and formal graduate education modules. We argue that formalised research training is worthwhile; however, we call attention to the importance of the student’s autonomy and stress the importance of maintaining flexibility for the individual researcher.

Migrant Deaths in the Mediterranean Increasing


It is nearly a year since the tragedy in Lampedusa where hundreds of migrants died trying to make their way to Europe. Unfortunately, migrant deaths in the Mediterranean continue and seem to be increasing. The Guardian reported that more than 2,900 people have drowned or gone missing this year while attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. This is a huge increase compared to a reported 700 deaths in 2013.

Two weeks ago, a boat on its way to Italy sank near Malta. Approximately 500 migrants (including 100 children) died. This boat was allegedly intentionally sunk by smugglers due to a dispute over the migrants’ refusal to move to smaller boats. Only 11 migrants survived this incident and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called it a “mass murder”. On the very same day a boat containing 200 migrants sank off the coast of Libya.

To say that these attempts by migrants to “illegally” enter Europe is based on mere economic gain is too simplified. People are travelling in this precarious way due to various ongoing conflicts, human rights abuses and economic instability in a range of countries in Africa and the Middle East (e.g. Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria). So, how should authorities deal with this, often fatal, method of migration? I argue that one way is to remove the dependence of migrants on smugglers. This can be done by making access to Europe less restrictive and increasing the number of legal methods of migration, especially for those fleeing conflict or persecution.