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Calls for submissions on Direct Provision and asylum application improvements

The current system was established in 1999 in response to a sharp increase in people seeking asylum in Ireland.

Image: Asylum Archive

STAKEHOLDERS ARE BEING asked to make submissions on issues affecting people living in Ireland’s Direct Provision system as well as the international protection application process.

The Justice and Equality committee is asking interested parties what can be done in the short-to-medium term to improve the welfare and conditions of people currently living in Direct Provision.

Established in 1999 in response to a sharp increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland, Direct Provision has been repeatedly critcised by migrant rights groups due to the length of time people remain in centres while their asylum applications or appeals are processed, the conditions of centres as well as the psychological effects on those living in these centres. 

In 2017, a blanket ban which prevented asylum seekers from working was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in May 2017. Barriers remain for people living in Direct Provision who wish to work, however, the Irish Refugee Council has said. 

The weekly allowance of €21.60 for Direct Provision residents has also been frequently criticised – though this was raised last year to €38.80 per week. 

Last week, residents of Mosney Direct Provision centre in Co Meath protested at the treatment by staff and management of a fellow-resident, leading the Irish Council for Civil Liberties to reiterate calls for independent inspections of Direct Provision centres to take place. 

‘Better models’

Since September, pressure has grown on the Department of Justice & Equality’s Reception & Integration Agency to accommodate those seeking international protection in Ireland.

In addition to the 38 permanent Direct Provision centres around Ireland, there are currently over 500 asylum seekers living in hotels and B&Bs. 

Earlier this month, the department announced that Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision centre – due to close in June – will remain open until at least 2021.

Three other centres are due to open in line with the ‘Independent Living’ model recommended by 2015′s McMahon report, which made 173 recommendations for Ireland’s asylum system.  

The department aims to open more centres in line with this model throughout 2019 and 2020, according to a spokesperson for the justice department. 

The justice committee has said it plans to look beyond the current Direct Provision system to “consider whether there are better models or alternatives we could pursue”. 

For the last number of years, there have been calls for the government to examine alternative models to the Direct Provision system. The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) has said it will be making a submission to the committee. 

The justice committee is also asking for submissions in relation to the efficiency of the current system of processing international protection claims “in order to bring policies, practices and laws into line with international best practice and standards”. 

The committee is due to commence a series of public hearings on Direct Provision issues on 22 May and said it plans to publish a findings report in the autumn.

The closing date for submissions is 24 May. 

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