Direct provision to be ‘phased out’ by 2024 under government plans

Direct provision to be 'phased out' by 2024 under government plans

Roderic O'Gorman

Plans to phase out the direct provision system of accommodation for asylum seekers by 2024 have been set out by the government in a white paper published this morning.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman, whose portfolio includes the direct provision system, said the new system will be run “on a not-for-profit basis and centred on human rights”.

In a statement, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said it welcomes the government’s “ambition”, though views the white paper as “a starting point”.

Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, welcomed ministers’ decision to “radically transform the reception process in Ireland”, though voiced concern about the lack of detail on reducing the backlog of cases in the international protection system.

Publishing the white paper, Mr O’Gorman said: “Under the new system, people seeking international protection in Ireland will be encouraged and supported to integrate from day one.

“The accommodation will be own-door for families, and provide the privacy and independence so many were not afforded over the past two decades. Single people will have own-room accommodation, ending the shared dormitory-styled rooms associated with the current system.

“We have seen the huge ground swell of solidarity for people in the current direct provision system. Irish people want to be proud of the support offered to people who come here seeking protection. In making a home here, they strengthen and enrich our communities.

“This is a new approach to supporting the needs of international protection applicants in Ireland. It will be run on a not-for-profit basis, and in order to be truly transformative, it will rely on strong engagement and cooperation between the State and not-for-profit organisations.

“I am looking forward to creating new partnerships with non-governmental organisations as we begin the process of bringing this new system to fruition.”

Sinéad Gibney, chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said: “This white paper is a starting point. Its publication and ambition is welcome, but government needs to show a consistent political commitment to make the essential reform of our international protection system feel real for those who it is currently failing, and those who will use this system.

“The Taoiseach’s statement in this white paper’s foreword to an international protection system ‘centred on a human rights and equality based approach’ is a welcome sign of political leadership.

“However, showing people fleeing mistreatment and persecution the dignity they deserve, and the welcome we can offer will be the final litmus test of our international protection approach.

“The Commission will study today’s white paper in detail.”

Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc, said: “We are delighted to see the White Paper include plans to introduce a child benefit equivalent type payment for families living in the community. We hope that this will go someways to addressing the consistent child poverty in asylum seeking families.

“The recommendations around unaccompanied minors are very strong and we particular welcome the emphasis on unaccompanied minors having a final instance decision on their case before they turn 18.”

However, she added: “As a member of the Day Advisory Group, it does not appear that the Department of Justice have engaged as thoroughly or as thoughtfully with the recommendations of the Day Report as their counterparts in the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth have.

“We are simply setting a future system up for failure if we do not address the processing times and the backlog of cases.”

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