“Yeah, I suppose it was all happening very quickly as well. It was quite chaotic, so the rules were at the window. You were trying everything. You were breaking all sorts of established diplomatic protocols around just even the communications around things about who you could call, what you could ask for. Yeah, chaotic is the right word, but it seemed to work as well. So it was just trying to make links to people that could make executive decisions around things.”

My name is Rory O’Neill. I joined the Irish Refugee Council in May 2015, initially part time as a researcher. I worked on the issues facing people transitioning out of direct provision and became the integration projects manager in 2018.

I developed and expanded my initial work to include a housing program, which sees people accommodated in secure tenancies, and employment-based-projects done in partnership with different employers and employment support agencies. Aside from the projects that I oversee, I also provide specialized advice and support to people relating to housing and employment, their general well-being, and integration after time spent in reception centers.

Prior to working with the Irish Refugee Council, I spent nine years as a photographer documenting the direct provision system and its consequences. I hold a bachelor’s degree in photography from Griffith College Dublin, a master’s in fine arts in photography from The University of Ulster (Belfast), and a post-graduate diploma in anthropology from Maynooth University.