Joint Statement on Working Group: Government advised time to act is now

Wed, July 22, 2015

PrintA new website tracking the Government’s implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process, including Direct Provision, is launched today.

Timetoact.ie is an initiative by the undersigned members of the Working Group which was tasked with examining improvements to the current system. The initiative calls for the immediate implementation of certain key recommendations from the 173 recommendation contained in the report.

“The report of the Working Group will not serve its purpose and improve the protection process or enable asylum seekers to live with greater dignity if it is not implemented” said Eugene Quinn, National Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland. “We are calling on the Irish Government to act now and honour their promise to introduce a number of key recommendationsby the end of July.”

The organisations welcomed a recent announcement by the Department of Education to improve access to third level education for children in the system. They also welcomed the Department of Health’s decision to exempt asylum seekers from prescription charges.

However disappointment was expressed at the lack of any movement on the recommendations in the Justice sphere addressing the length of time issue, which is the primary concern articulated by Direct Provision residents and a principal reason for the establishment of the Working Group in October last year.

Mr. Stephen Ng’ang’a, Coordinator, Core Group of Asylum Seekers, emphasised that 4,300 asylum seekers residing in Ireland’s 34 Direct Provision centres are watching eagerly for the recommendations to be implemented:

“Many of us have been ‘living in limbo’with our lives on hold in Direct Provision for too long. The solution recommended for persons who have been in the system for more than five years will assist many to finally exit the system.All that is required is the political courage to act.”

3,350 people should benefit from the implementation of this recommendation, 1,480 of whom reside in Direct Provision, including 500 children.

Another key recommendation the Group is calling to be acted upon immediately is to increase the weekly Direct Provision allowance for children and adults for the first time since it was introduced 15 years ago.

Ms. Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance, said:

“Concerns about the impact of long periods of time spent in Direct Provision on children have consistently been voiced nationally by the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon, and by international human rights bodies. Implementing key Working Group recommendations now can lead to real change and improve the quality and dignity of these vulnerable children’s lives.”

The Working Group Report provides a road map for fundamental and long overdue reform of the Protection Process and the Direct Provision system. The recommendations set out in the Report were agreed to by a consensus of all Members of the Working Group including: the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, TUSLA, the HSE and the Office of the Attorney General.

Over 300 residents of Direct Provision, including children, shared their views and ideas with Working Group during an extensive consultation process which included visits to Direct Provision centres around the country. The Working Group recommendations directly address the serious concerns raised by the residents.

The following organisations endorse the calls made on Timetoact.ie:

Core Group of Asylum Seekers
Children’s Rights Alliance
JRS Ireland
Nasc
SPIRASI
UNHCR

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