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'It's like someone is watching my every move': Children in Direct Provision face lack of privacy, discrimination

A 100-page report by The Ombudsman For Children’s Office contains interviews with children living in Direct Provision.

Image: Children's Ombudsman's Office

Updated Jul 7th 2020, 11:55 AM

CHILDREN IN LIVING in Ireland’s Direct Provision system have spoken of their experiences of racism and discrimination in their communities and a lack of privacy in their accommodation. 

‘Direct Division’, a 100-page report by The Ombudsman For Children’s Office, contains interviews with children living in Direct Provision, focusing on children’s experience of inclusion and exclusion in Ireland, and their rights under The United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The Child. 

Children interviewed as part of this report said they frequently experienced racial slurs – “go back to your country” – and expressed fear when they heard about communities protesting about new Direct Provision centres.

Children between 12-17 years of age highlighted discrimination and racism at school and said some teachers expressed racist or discriminatory sentiments or were covertly racist.

The report does highlight a number of positive aspects to children living in Direct Provision’s experience in Ireland. 

Community events and sports helped children feel inclusive while some children said schools show respect for different cultures and religions. 

The report interviewed 73 children across nine Direct Provision and centres and has been described by Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon as “quite stark”. 

Children interviewed for the report also spoke of a lack of privacy in Direct Provision centres and said often their room were entered and examined by staff with no notice. 

In its recommendations, The Office has called for shorter processing times for International Protection Applicants. 

Currently many children spent over five years living in the system, Dr Muldoon said. “That’s way too long. It hampers their progress and their growth,” he said. 

Children interviewed as part of the report called for better food and self-catering facilities in Direct Provision centres. 

They also called for anti-racism training for teachers in Ireland and more awareness about other religions. 

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The Government has committed to ending Direct Provision during its term with a White Paper due to be published by the end of the year. 

Responsibility for the accommodation element of the system is due to transfer from the Department of Justice & Equality to the newly established Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration. 

Dr Muldoon also called for privacy standards to be implemented in Direct Provision centres for children and called on the Government to engage with children living in the system. 

“I really would urge the government and the minister as he starts to change this system into something better that engages with children consistently throughout that process,” he said. 

“They are the people living in it and they can get feedback that will help them improve that system into the future.”

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