This past week, a number of journalists have been making comparisons between the survivors of the Magdalene laundries and asylum-seeking children who are currently living in the Direct Provision system. Sparked by the written response to a parliamentary question by TD Maureen O Sullivan, questions are being asked regarding the disparity between the amount spent by the State on privately run accommodation centres and the well-documented poverty of children living under the Direct Provision system. In total €655 million has been paid out to the accommodation centres from 2000 to 2010, with €40 million going to three centres in Cork alone. This is compared to the weekly €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child provided directly to asylum seekers.
Nasc, and others such as the European Commissioner on Human Rights in 2012 and Irish Rapporteur on Child Protection in 2011, have previously raised concerns about asylum seekers’ standard of living and the length of time spent in the Direct Provision system. Some of the most pressing welfare issues range from social exclusion due to poverty, the effects of long-term institutionalisation on the mental and physical development on children, to the five hundred unaccompanied minors seeking asylum who went missing while in State care between 2000 and 2009. Both the recent passing of the Children’s Rights referendum and the Magdalene Laundries Reports must generate even more impetus for change in how we protect the welfare of all recipients of State care.
Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc says this on the issue,
“The outpouring of regret at the treatment of those who have lived through Irish State institutions – such as the Magdalene Laundries – must translate into systems of care that actively protect the welfare of the most vulnerable. Reform of the Direct Provision system is necessary not just on the basis of cost but primarily on our obligations to children in the State.”
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