Nasc seeks additional information on progress of implementing McMahon Report

Thu, May 11, 2017

Nasc has thoroughly examined the most recent Progress Report on the implementation of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process and Direct Provision (the ‘McMahon Report‘).

The 2nd Progress Report was published in February 2017 by the Department of Justice, and Nasc are in the process of compiling a Shadow Report on the overall progress of implementation.

This most recent report follows the June 2016 Progress Report, and concludes that 159 of the 173 recommendations (92%) have been implemented or are in progress.

We commend the progress made on a number of the key recommendations, including the recent expansion of the remit of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children, and the implementation of the Single Procedure, as well as the Minister for Justice’s public commitments to implement the recommendations in the report in full.

However, we are concerned about reports we have received from asylum seekers and from our own work in this area, which would suggest that some of the recommendations listed as implemented in both the 2016 and 2017 Progress Reports may not been progressed as reported, or their implementation has not been sufficiently monitored or verified by the relevant authority.

It is our view that not enough information was provided in either the 2016 or 2017 Progress Reports to be able to verify that these recommendations have indeed been implemented or progressed.

From our initial examination of the 2017 Progress Report, we could only verify that 16 recommendations had been implemented, 18 were in progress or partially implemented, and 96 require additional information or evidence to verify. This is only 20% of the 173 recommendations implemented or in progress.

Some recommendations which we would deem to be vital to ensuring that asylum seekers are able to live in dignity and respect have been listed as ‘Not Being Progressed’ or ‘Partially Implemented’, with no timeframe provided as to when these will be implemented in future.

In light of all of these concerns, we have contacted the relevant Ministers, including Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris, and Minister for Education Richard Bruton, to request additional information and evidence in order to externally verify the progress of the McMahon recommendations, including those which have been listed as ‘Not Being Progressed’.

Issues that are of particular importance to Nasc include:

  • A rationale for why the Direct Provision Allowance for adults and children has not yet been increased in line with the recommendations, and a timeframe for when it will be implemented;
  • A rationale for why the Government did not opt in to the Recast EU Directives on Reception Conditions, Procedures and Qualifications;
  • Additional details about the ongoing rollout of communal and self-catering kitchens and living spaces for families, and other aspects relating to the physical conditions in direct provision centres;
  • Details about why the vulnerability assessment has been listed as ‘Not Being Progressed’ due to lack of resources, and a timeframe on when the necessary resources will be allocated;
  • More information about what the Government will be doing to guard against backlogs in the system into the future, particularly without an advisory body to provide oversight;
  • A rationale for why the Government does not appear to have even considered implementing the recommendation which would provide limited access to the labour market for protection applicants, which also has a knock on effect of impacting the rights of protection applicants to further education and training courses.

It should be noted that Recommendation 3.340 of the McMahon Report calls for statistics and other information to be shared more openly amongst key stakeholders, in the spirit that it was undertaken during the Working Group process. This recommendation was listed as implemented as of June 2016, and we believe our request for additional information is very much in line with the commitments made in that recommendation.

It is incredibly important that the Government’s progress on implementing the recommendations in the McMahon Report is closely monitored, particularly as we are aware that the Government’s work on the report is due to cease in the near future.

We are aware that many improvements are in train and we very much welcome the Government’s work to bring these forward. However, given the number and scope of recommendations in the Report, it is vital that close monitoring of their ongoing implementation is prioritised.