European Migration Network (Ireland) Report on Direct Provision

EMN Irl.pngThe European Migration Network (housed in the Economic and Social Research Institute(ESRI) ) has this morning released a report on The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in Ireland.  This 48 page report analyses the system of direct provision for asylum seekers in Ireland. This report succinctly sums up some key concerns that exist as regards the current operation of the direct provision system. Some key points of note from the report:

  • Almost 40% of residents in direct provision are single persons (at end of 2012);
  • 9% of all applicants in the direct provision system for over seven years, with 31% of all  asylum seekers in direct provision for over 5 years (at end of 2012).
  • The legal basis for direct provision is highly questionable (for full reasons for this see here and here).
  • The Government acknowledges (but does nothing about) the problem as regards long term ‘residency’ in direct provision centres.
  • Ireland is only one of two states that does not permit asylum seekers (at some stage in their asylum application) to work.

While the statistics relate to end of 2012 (confirmed 2013 statistics will not be available until March 2014), statistics from December 2013’s Reception and Integration Agency report that have been recently released and make for depressing reading. There are now 4,360 asylum seekers in the system of direct provision (as of the end of December 2013).

  • Over 86% of asylum seekers have been in direct provision for 12 months or longer, 15.4% of all individuals in direct provision have been there for over 7 years; while 43.1% of individuals in direct provision have been condemned to direct provision for over 5 years.
  • 38.2% ( 1,666 children) of all those in direct provision centers are children.
  • There are more people in direct provision than people who are detained in prisons in Ireland.

Much of what is contained in the report has already been documented by the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), the Irish Refugee Council and others over the last decade. I have previously ( here and here) documented the responsibility of Minister Shatter and Minister Joan Burton for their role in permitting the continuation of the direct provision system. With such a large number of children present in direct provision centres and for increasingly longer periods of time, the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD has stated child protection in direct provision is a matter for her colleague, Minister for Justice, Mr Alan Shatter TD.  The fact that direct provision violates the  civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights  of children forced to live, grow up, sleep, play and eat in a communal setting within direct provision seems to be of little concern to the Minister. Already, a Northern Ireland court has refused to allow Britain send asylum seeking children back to the Republic of Ireland, due to the fact that the direct provision system is not in the best interests of children.

Releasing inspection reports (available here) while important, should not be regarded as the end of the matter. Adults and children, men and women, young and old are on alert, come to Ireland to claim asylum and we will damn you for years to the system of direct provision. The dehumanising nature of the direct provision system is  illustrated  in a new short film on the system of direct provision.

Note: I  acted as an external peer reviewer for The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in Ireland report. This report does not necessarily represent my personal views on direct provision, just as my views on direct provision (in this post and elsewhere) may not represent that of EMN (Ireland), the authors of the report or of the ESRI.