Aramark is an American corporation that operates three Direct Provision centres for the State in Cork, Clare and Westmeath, and are commercially involved in the US prison system and ICE. The Direct Provision system is an oppressive and dysfunctional migrant prison system which has successfully enriched private companies like Aramark over many years.
The recent decision by the National Gallery of Ireland to award Aramark a multi-million euro catering deal is unacceptable and a stain on the reputation of our public institution.
Granting Aramark this contract is in direct conflict with the commendable actions the National Gallery has previously taken to engage with those living in Direct Provision. The association of the National Gallery with Aramark will only act to sanitise the oppressive system of Direct Provision and the companies that profit from its implementation, severely compromising any further efforts by the gallery to represent this community.
Voices From Direct Provision
“I am living in Direct Provision. I don’t know where to start with the pain I am feeling in this place seeing my child suffer daily. This is the dinner they feed us and my daughter have NO other option to eat the rice with bread as a vegetable daily” pic.twitter.com/NAk9aAZWXz
— Abolish Direct Provision Campaign (@AbolishDirect) January 27, 2022
We do not accept that the National Gallery is bound by procurement procedures to award this contract. We believe Aramark’s association with the National Gallery will severely damage its standing internationally, with the Irish public and within the artistic community. This is in conflict with the tender invitation for the gallery’s catering contract which states the provider “must undertake to ensure that neither it, nor its personnel…do anything which would or may damage the reputation of the NGI”.
Additionally, the gallery’s own customer care charter states; “The National Gallery of Ireland’s objective is to promote a service that is accessible to all, pursues equality and accommodates diversity of outcome to ensure that no one is discriminated against by virtue of their gender, family status, marital status, religion, age, and race, membership of the Traveller community, sexual orientation or disability.” We believe the association of the National Gallery with Aramark, a company which repeatedly violates these principles, contravenes the galleries own customer care charter.
Voices From Direct Provision
“I complained many times to the Manager of this direct provision centre about the food for my baby they served daily in the canteen. This is what we got today and my baby is sick. The manager also enter my room without notice every time we email IPAS” pic.twitter.com/Uo2yKSKtW0
— Abolish Direct Provision Campaign (@AbolishDirect) January 17, 2022
We demand that the board of the National Gallery of Ireland withdraw the contract with Aramark.
We believe this is an opportunity for the NGI to operate the café directly, giving workers safer and more secure employment contracts in the public sector, as exists in other arts institutions. The café also represents an opportunity to engage with the rich culinary traditions of new communities on this island while creating secure employment for people from these communities, as has been done with the Our Table project.
Last week, a version of the above statement was sent to the Board of the National Gallery of Ireland on behalf of Members and the elected Council of Praxis: The Artists’ Union of Ireland. They have yet to respond.
For people saying asylum seekers should be grateful. Let’s add some context. Aramark Ltd received €7,000,000 from the State in 2020 for this open prison food daily to refugees. Is it value for State Funds (€100,000,000 SINCE 2001)? pic.twitter.com/bM3uYcuhpF
— Abolish Direct Provision Campaign (@AbolishDirect) January 10, 2022
We stand in solidarity with the 4 artists formerly working with the NGI, Emma Roche, Brian Teeling, Salvatore of Lucan and Jonathan Mayhew, who signed the following statement;
“Direct provision is the greatest failing of our government today.
“Those who profit from it and support it should have no place in our National Gallery.
“It is unacceptable, deeply saddening and undermines the great work you have done as an institution.”
And our further solidarity and support to Emma Roche & Brian Teeling who withdrew their works in protest.
We encourage members and readers to contribute to the ongoing petition on the issue:
National Gallery of Ireland contact details:
Read the open letter, signed by more than 80 artists and arts workers:
On World Children’s Day close to 3000 children incarcerated in Direct Provision Centres in Ireland. About 10% with Irish Passports and no rights in this country. Brutal! pic.twitter.com/JSpzGmfzzu
— Abolish Direct Provision Campaign (@AbolishDirect) November 20, 2021
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