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Overhaul of Direct Provision system recommended by expert group tasked with improving residents' welfare

Direct Provision was set up as a temporary measure in 1999.

Protesters back in 2017.
Protesters back in 2017.
Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

AN EXPERT GROUP set up to investigate how Ireland’s Direct Provision (DP) works has recommended a radical overhaul of the current system. 

DP was set up as a temporary measure in 1999 in response to an increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland.

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

Dr Catherine Day was appointed by the Department of Justice to carry out a review of the system and to identify measures which would improve the lives of those in Direct Provision. 

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and junior minister with responsibility for integration, Brian Stanton, today sent all TDs and Senators the briefing note on the progress of the expert group. 

The ministers have instructed their officials to have proposals on all these issues ready to be considered by the incoming Government. 

The following are some of the proposed changes: 

  • Extending the right to work
  • Exploration of alternative housing models and funding provisions
  • Clear guidance with regard to ensuring all applicants can open bank accounts
  • Reducing the amount of time taken to process positive decisions
  • Ensuring binding standards for centres are applied and enforced by January 2021
  • Compulsory training and regular networking for centre managers
  • Moving away from the use of emergency accommodation
  • Ensuring vulnerability assessments take place
  • Working with the Department of Transport towards access to driving licenses

Minister Flanagan said: “How Ireland treats its minorities including those seeking asylum has been at the forefront of many of our minds recently. This is due both to the stress Covid-19 has placed on the Direct Provision system and also the way in which some have drawn parallels with recent events in America.

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“Minister Stanton and I welcome that focus as we believe that root and branch reform of the system and the policy behind it is required.” 

Minister Flanagan also referred to the stress which Covid-19 placed on the Direct Provision system and ordered that a review be carried out to investigate the actions taken by his department after the initial outbreak of Covid-19. 

He added: “I have therefore asked the Secretary General to undertake a review of our action on DP in the early stages of the pandemic, with particular reference to opening centres such as the one in Cahersiveen, to inform our actions in any subsequent phases. 

“To ensure it is done quickly as possible, this review will be conducted internally with HSE input/involvement.  We will seek external expert input on it when it is near completion.”

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