People Held In Direct Provision ‘To Be Allowed To Work’

Irish Justice Minister recently announced that adults living in the Direct Provision system will soon have access to the labour market.

Cardboard signs read
Image Source: Protest signs outside the Kinsale Road direct provision centre in Cork.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan recently announced that adults living in the Direct Provision system in Ireland will very soon be able to access employment.

The Direct Provision system is charged with providing a bed, food, a shower, medical care, information and access to a wide range of services to people applying for asylum in Ireland; however, the conditions in which people are held and length of time they are required to stay there has been critcised as inhumane and degrading.

Currently there are over 4,000 people in the Direct Provision system in Ireland with around 50 new applications arriving each week. An adult in the system receives €21 a week, and children receive the same amount.

A dark-skinned child stands holding a cardboard sigh that reads "Born in Ireland 9 Years in Limbo Are We Different from Others?
Protest outside direct provision centre in Cork in 2014.

Many asylum seekers in the Direct Provision system spend years in conditions that are damaging to the health, welfare and life-chances of those forced to endure them. Currently asylum seekers are not allowed to work and are denied access to social welfare.

In a speech to the Seanad, Flanagan said: “Adults who will soon have access to the labour market will also see their capacity for economic independence enhanced in line with the finding of the Supreme Court. Residents have been given access to the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children, which is an important step forward.”

Nick Henderson, the CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, welcomed the announcement.

“We are calling for someone to be given the right to work after six months of waiting for an asylum decision and no restrictions be placed on what professions a person can enter and that self-employment also be allowed.”

“We have also written to the Minister to request that we be given the opportunity to present to the Taskforce looking at this issue and that, more importantly, people in the asylum process also be given this opportunity. This is essential from the perspective of transparency and good government and to ensure the integrity of taskforce’s final decision. We are still awaiting a reply to our request.”

LGBT+ asylum seekers are especially vulnerable and are frequently subject to harassment, as we explore in our current issue of GCN magazine.

When people arrive in this country and declare their status as asylum seekers, they are put into a harrowing housing system called Direct Provision, in which they can be stuck for years, not knowing whether they will be deported or not. For LGBT+ asylum seekers Direct Provision often transplants the oppression they were fleeing from to Ireland, as Chris O’Donnell reports.

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