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Keeping children in Direct Provision for 10 years is not right, says Logan

The issue of direct provision is “unresolved” for the Ombudsman for Children.

National day of action to end institutional living for asylum seekers.
National day of action to end institutional living for asylum seekers.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE OMBUDSMAN OF Children (OCO) Emily Logan said that it is not right that children are spending up to ten years living in direct provision centres.

While she said that her Office is excluded from investigating cases relating to the area of asylum and immigration, she said, above all she is the Ombudsman for “all Children”.

Speaking at the launch of her last annual report before she vacates the role, she said that for her the issue of Direct Provision is an “unresolved”.

Disagreement 

“The Department of Justice and Equality and my Office do not have a shared understanding of the scope of this exclusion, particularly as it relates to children in direct provision,” she said.

Logan added that she has raised this with the Oireachtas on “numerous occasions” dating back to the first annual report launch. She said she would like to see the Operation of the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 Act amended to include children in direct provision under the Office’s remit.

Despite the the Office excluding them from dealing with such complaints, she said her Office has dealt with cases sent to them.

Notwithstanding the lack of clarity regarding its jurisdiction in the area of relating to asylum and immigration matters, in 2013 the OCO has dealt with complaints brought to its attention concerning children living in direct provision.

“The OCO has sought and obtained a resolution to complaints brought to the Office in the interests of the children in question, though the Department of Justice and Equality has not accepted that the OCO can address these as cases within the statutory complaints-handling framework of the Ombudsman for Children Act.”

Ombudsman for Children - Final Report. Pi Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan presenting her final annual report. Source: Sam Boal

Judicial review

“There are currently over 1,000 cases before the High Court awaiting judicial review, which could take another ten years,” she said. Logan said she would like to see another mechanism put in place to accelerate the process.

She also said that there must be accountability for when public bodies outsource services, such as direct provision centres, to outside bodies, stating that €50 million is being spent on them.

Logan said the centres needed to be assessed not just in terms of a health and safety remit, but in a “qualitative” manner, stating that the experience for the children and families living there needed to be assessed.

While acknowledging that housing is a real issue for many,  she said it was not right to “pitch one group against another”.

It’s an area that we need to be more sympathetic towards. It’s difficult in the context of our constricted financial situation where our own citizens are struggling and housing has become such a big issue, not just for the traditional cohort homeless, but for a new group of people

She added that it was important to have “humanity across the system”.

Logan added that parents are the best advocates for their children, but said that for some parents in direct provision, they don’t have the “confidence or have a sense of how they can fight for their children”.

Due to the environment they are in they do not “want to be seen complaining,” she concluded.

Read: Number of complaints made to the Ombudsman for Children up 16%>

Read: Ombudsman for Children should have a role in new Independent Policing Authority – Logan>

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