Words: Dylan Murphy
An expert group will publish its recommendations today on what will replace the inhumane system.
According to the Irish Times, a Government expert group has proposed a new accommodation and application scheme for those seeking asylum in Ireland. The group’s recommendations would see Direct Provision end by 2023.
Direct Provision is the inhumane system of temporary housing for people seeking international protection in Ireland and is currently made up of around 40 centres ranging from old hotels to caravan parks.
It was set up in 1999 as an emergency response to increasing numbers of people seeking refuge, the system still exists 20 years later. Despite complaints, it remains a billion-euro industry that profits off the displacement of vulnerable people with wealthy businesspersons reimagining spaces to obtain multi-million euro government contracts.
In its programme for government, the current coalition made a commitment to ending Direct Provision though the promise is not legally binding. (Read ‘What Is Direct Provision’ here).
However, last year an expert group was appointed to create a report geared at ending the system.
Primarily, the report recommends that the current system should be replaced by a new three-stage system consisting of state-run accommodation by 2023. Asylum seekers would stay in this accommodation for up to three months and where they can begin their application for international protection. Here, there would also be on-site services to help applicants avail of health and social welfare services whilst receiving legal advice and undergoing vulnerability assessments.
In addition, the group has suggested that following three months at the state-run centres applicants will be assisted to move to own-door accommodation. These would be overseen by local authorities and modelled on the homeless assistance payment. Weekly allowance would be made available for inhabitants in a payment similar to that of the Housing Assistance Payment.
According to a source in The Irish Times it is recommended in the report that applicants should not be housed in remote areas where it is likely they will be isolated from normal life. It suggests they should be placed in areas where they have access to employment and education opportunities, whilst the number of applicants in the respective areas should be proportionate to the size of the area.
The report recommends specific accommodation for victims of trafficking and suggeststhat single men and women be given single room accommodation in shared houses.
The group chaired by former Secretary General of the European Commission Dr Catherine Day also puts forward that those that have lived in the current system of Direct Provision for two or more years should receive a one-off grant and pending security clearance would be given leave-to-remain for a period of five years. Leave-to-remain is granted to people who have been refused refugee status but who are not returned home for humanitarian or other compelling reasons.
Importantly, if someone is successful in their application for international protection or they are permitted to remain in Ireland they should be supported by up to 18 months after.
In addition, the report recommends that the Legal Aid Board should be supported more to ensure applicants are able to avail of legal advice on arrival in Ireland. This comes alongside further suggestions that there should be a six month deadlines for the International Protection Office to make a first instance decision and six month deadline for the Appeals Tribunal to decide on an appeal.
In the current system, those in the system that met specific criteria were granted permission to work, however, there are still many that cannot. The new report suggests that there should be more accessible to work within the first three months of the application for protection in Ireland.
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