Belfast Telegraph

Direct Provision ‘needs root and branch reform or replacement’

The current system of asylum seeker accommodation in Ireland has been described as ‘not fit for purpose’ by an Oireachtas committee.

A Direct Provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)
A Direct Provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

The Direct Provision system for asylum seekers may need to be replaced instead of reformed, a new report has said.

The Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality has described the current system as flawed and in need of fundamental reform and preferably replacement.

Direct Provision was set up in 1999 in response to an increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland.

It has been criticised by migrant rights groups due to the length of time people wait for their asylum applications or appeals to be processed and the impact this has on children.

The report on Direct Provision and the International Protection Application process makes 43 recommendations in total.

Launching the report, Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain, the committee’s chairman, said an expert review of the Direct Provision system is required as it is “not fit for purpose”.

The report highlights the impact it has on children in the system, challenges people face in accessing the labour market and the “inadequate” support and services being offered to vulnerable people.

The committee calls for a move towards providing own door accommodation that offers a mix of “independent and supported living to cater for the needs of all applicants”.

It also suggests an expert group is established to conduct a comparative analysis of best practices in other jurisdictions that may be adapted for implementation in Ireland.

The report also states there should be a move away from a reliance on commercial running of Direct Provision services and that approved housing bodies should be involved instead.

It suggests the nine-month waiting time for asylum seekers to access to the labour market should be reduced or removed.

Children were devastated because they would not be in school to see their friends Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain

Launching the report on Thursday, Mr O Caolain said the committee believes the system of shared institutionalised living is “failing to fully respect the right to privacy and human dignity of those living in the centres”.

He recalled visiting a Direct Provision centre in Co Monaghan, where children said they were upset about the school summer holidays as they faced months of being in their DP centre with nothing to do.

“These children were devastated because they would not be in school to see their friends and and it meant they were going from a day filled with activity and distractions to one where there was limited prospects,” he said.

He said in some cases, people living in Direct Provision centres are “treated like cattle”.

The report found Direct Provision has a negative influence on the “mental health and well-being of all person who are housed for long periods of time”.

It noted concern over a lack of support for vulnerable residents – including those who experienced abuse or were trafficked.

The report said the practice of housing asylum seekers in emergency accommodation must end.

Since September 2018, asylum seekers have been placed in hotels and B&Bs due to pressure on the existing 40 Direct Provision centres.

“The committee is very aware of the current wider housing crisis in Ireland, nevertheless, the use of emergency accommodation must cease as soon as possible,” the report said.

It also states an increasing number of people with positive decisions are remaining in Direct Provision centres as no other accommodation is available or affordable to them.

Mr O Caolain acknowledged while the time for the current Government is running out, he hopes the next administration will implement the recommendations in the report as asylum seekers will continue to come to the Ireland and a better system is needed.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph