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Expert group report on ending Direct Provision to go to Cabinet next week

An expert group, led by former Secretary General of the European Commission Dr Catherine Day, has sent a list of recommendations to Government.

Dr Catherine Day
Dr Catherine Day
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A REPORT INVESTIGATING how to replace the Direct Provision system will go to Cabinet next week.

An expert group, led by former Secretary General of the European Commission Dr Catherine Day, has sent a list of recommendations to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Children, Disabilities, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman.

The group’s full report is due to be sent to Cabinet on Tuesday. It is understood the report will be over 100 pages long and will make a number of key recommendations for reform. 

Dr Day’s report was drawn up in consultation with a number of NGOs, including the Irish Refugee Council and Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI). 

Dr Day previously described the current Direct Provision system as “unsatisfactory” and “largely reactive”.

She said earlier this year that the group’s goal was to develop a “sustainable and agile system which has a clear focus on the needs of those seeking International Protection”.

She said a “whole of government” approach will be needed in changing the system.

The report will inform the Government’s White Paper for replacing the controversial system of accommodating asylum seekers in Ireland, which is due to be published by January. 

Responsibility for administering Direct Provision transferred this week from the Department of Justice & Equality to the Department of Children & Youth Affairs, as part of an agreement under the Programme For Government. 

TheJournal.ie has previously highlighted rising costs of Ireland’s Direct Provision system, including in Emergency Accommodation

Emails released under Freedom of Information show that discussions took place throughout July and August regarding transfer of functions for Direct Provision. 

It was noted that a “significant funding gap” of €120 million for Direct Provision needed to be addressed before Minister O’Gorman agreed to accept responsibility for the system. 

The Department of Justice & Equality estimated that between €170 million and €200 million was needed in 2020 to run Direct Provision but that it was only provided with €80 million. 

Over €225 million has been provided under Budget 2021 to meeting this increasing cost.

The Department of Justice & Equality confirmed this week that 46 staff from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) will transfer to the Department of Children & Youth Affairs. 

O’Gorman previously told TheJournal.ie that it will considerable time to end Direct Provision. 

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“Move away from that to a system that is not-for-profit, where the State is in control of the system and where people who are having their applications processed can live in dignity and who aren’t isolated from the communities they’re living in,” he said.

We’re very clear that this… isn’t going to be done quickly. This is something that’s going to be done over the course of a term of Government. 

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