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Over 1,000 people with status to remain are stuck in Direct Provision as they can't find other housing

Eoin Ó Broin says these people should be included in the government’s homelessness figures.

Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin (file photo)
Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin (file photo)
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

MORE THAN 1,000 asylum seekers who have been granted permission to remain in Ireland are still living in Direct Provision centres because they can’t access other accommodation.

As of the end of March, 730 adults and 309 children who have been granted leave-to-remain status resided in DP centres around the country.

The figures were released from the Department of Children to Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin.

Commenting on the figures, Ó Broin told The Journal that the departments of Children, Justice and Housing “must do more to assist these families to exit Direct Provision”.

“Unfortunately this is one piece of the broader housing crisis,” he said, noting that these people are not included in the government’s official homelessness figures.

“As these families are effectively homeless and remain stuck in Direct Provision, despite having their leave to remain, they should be included in the Department of Housing’s official homeless figures so we can get a true picture of the real level of housing need.”

In the reply to Ó Broin’s parliamentary question, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said: “Considerable work is being undertaken to support these residents to move out of accommodation centres and into secure accommodation in the community.”

He noted that a team in his department works in collaboration with Depaul Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Peter McVerry Trust, officials in the Department of Housing and local authority officials “to support residents with status or permission to remain to access housing options”.

“So far this year, 276 persons with status have moved into the community, of whom 248 received assistance from the support services outlined. Last year, 1,136 people moved into community housing from our accommodation centres,” O’Gorman added.  

The minister is set to meet with city and county managers shortly to discuss the availability of services for international protection applicants.

Speaking at an online event on Wednesday, O’Gorman said it was not “a competition of provision” between his department and the Department of Housing.

“One of the reasons my department is leading on accommodation is to ensure that the Department of Housing can continue in its central role to provide social housing, while my department will deliver housing for international protection applicants,” he stated.

A reported released by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) last week criticised a number of failings in relation to the protection of children living in Direct Provision.

An investigation arose after parents raised concerns about overcrowding, inconsistent heating to bedrooms, and the nutritional content of food available.

The OCO’s report said the DP model “does not have the best interests of children, or the protection and promotion of the human rights of child refugees at its core”.

White Paper

In February the Government published a White Paper that set out how it plans to end the Direct Provision system over the next three years.

The current for-profit system has been repeatedly criticised since its establishment as an apparent temporary measure 21 years ago. The State has to date paid out over €1 billion to private companies who run the accommodation centres.

The Government intends to establish a new international protection support service to be in place by 2024 and to be delivered by the Department of Children, Equality, Integration and Youth.

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Phase One of the plan involves identifying locations for new State-run reception and integration centres made up of own-door accommodation which will be spread throughout the country.

Wraparound services should be in place from when a person makes their application for international protection with specific vulnerabilities identified throughout.

The emphasis, according to the Government’s plan, is on a person-centred approach to support people to integrate into local communities.

The roadmap to phasing out Ireland’s network of private contracts, overcrowded accommodation and shared living spaces is to be followed up with “a blend of not-for-profit housing models”.

After four months in a State-owned centre, applicants should be moved to their own accommodation through a mix of both urban renewal and community hosting schemes but with the vast majority of people moving into accommodation delivered by Approved Housing Bodies.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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