My investigation is about the deaths inside the direct provision, so the story has followed and disclosed five deaths that occurred in 2020, four of them connected to suicide. The investigation has residents’ witnesses, victims’ families were involved, coroner’s inquests, Garda responses, FOI requests, Department of Justice responses, management of direct provision center’s response.
I believe that the story about the death in the direct provision system was entirely untold. Since I came to Ireland, I noticed almost zero coverage on that, the investigation I did took 16 months to do, and it was during the pandemic. So the investigation has data that was never published. The data was taken after four appeals on FOI requests.
The impact is this community became more recognized. Two days after my investigation, the Fiona Fail party had a statement on my report.
I have done a lot of stories in my entire life, but I feel that was the most important one since I have broken the norm of not publishing details about suicide in direct provision in Irish media.
I had access to publish the story on Euro News as my previous ones on a similar topic (direct provision). But I have approached hard to publish it on the Irish media outlet as it would be more impactable, which I eventually got.
I used LexisNexis to collect some data about the number of deaths that occurred in specific years. I collected numbers through the FOI legislation. I used data through the coroner requests.
What was the hardest part of this project?
The most challenging pet is getting the data from the department of justice through the FOI requests as it got four rejections, but with the appeals, I got the number of deaths. It was challenging to reach the victims ‘ families, but with using social media searching tools, I reached them. It was challenging to convince an Irish media outlet to publish the story as there are editorial rules in many media outlets to not publish on suicide among the immigrant community; I could have published it elsewhere, such as Euronews, but I owned to publish it on Irish media outlet for more impact, and I eventually did and the great thing that this story won Ireland news brands investigative of the year award.
What can others learn from this project?
The story had been very well visualised specially through the draws, so I think the draws were used in the right way to explain the words. I also believe that journalists would learn about keening to get the data even after being rejected by FOI officers.