Over the next four years, the Direct Provision system in Ireland will be replaced by an international protection system – with all current centres to be closed down by 2024.
A Government White Paper published today will detail the phasing out of the controversial privatised system which has seen those involved housed in appalling conditions, left in limbo for years and saw vulnerable people placed in dangerous situations, including asylum seekers from the LGBTQ+ community.
The White Paper details a new two-phased approach for people seeking asylum. The first phase is planned to take no more than four months and will see accommodation provided by reception and integration centres, each person having ‘own door’ accommodation, which will be State-owned and not run by private companies. Those seeking protection will be assisted to integrate from day one, and will be helped with housing, education, health and employment supports.
The White Paper further states that vulnerability assessments will take into account specific needs to ensure people are housed and treated appropriately, including LGBTQ+ people, the disabled or elderly, those who have been victims of physical and sexual violence, or those who have been trafficked.
The described second phase says that those whose applications are ongoing will be moved to own-door accommodation in the community (self contained houses or apartments for families, and either own-door or own-room accommodation for single people).
After six months, it continues, applicants can seek paid work, be helped to open a bank account and will be able to apply for a driver’s licence.
People in Ireland want to see Direct Provision ended.
— Roderic O’Gorman TD (@rodericogorman) February 26, 2021
While many have welcomed the long-awaited changes, it has taken the Direct Provision system over 20 years to be replaced – with it initially being introduced as an interim measure.
Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, shared in an interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, “There is a wealth of reports about what is wrong with the system. And I think this White Paper does give us a roadmap to ending it and replacing it. And we look forward to implementation.”
Henderson continued, “What it doesn’t do is take forward a recommendation made by the Catherine Day Advisory Group that was published in October, a recommendation that people who had been in the system for more than two years would be offered permission to remain.”
Doras, the independent group working to protect and promote the rights of migrants in Ireland, shared in a press release, “We are concerned to see that there is no clear plan to deal with the large backlog in International Protection cases. The current Direct Provision system is set up to accommodate 3,500 people, yet it currently accommodates over 7,000.
“As recommended in the Day report, we call for leave to remain to be granted to people who have been in the system for two years or more. Many people’s lives have been on hold in the system for several years, and they should not be on hold for any longer.”
Doras continued, “The negative impact living in Direct Provision has on people has been repeatedly highlighted by NGOs, in academia, by members of the public, public representatives, and most importantly international protection applicants for almost 21 years now. It is good to see a Government finally recognising that and responding, but the real work starts now.”
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