Justice Minister denies that direct provision is 'inhumane and cruel'

Justice Minister denies that direct provision is 'inhumane and cruel'

Protests have now halted plans for three direct provision centres nationwide, yet the Justice Minister denied responsibility for garda actions at the recent disruptions at Oughterard.

Round-the-clock protests resulted in developer Sean Lyons withdrawing his tender to turn the former Connemara Gateway hotel into a direct provision centre this week.

Justice Minister Charles Flanagan said that the failure by gardaí to stop protesters from blocking builders' access to the Oughterard site was “a public order issue”.

“That isn't one for me as the Minister for Justice,” he said, speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke.

“Well you are responsible for policing,” journalist Sean O'Rourke countered.

“No, no, no, no, no Sean. Be very careful here,” the Minister replied.

“I'm not involved in the direct instructions to policemen on any given day. This is a matter for the garda authorities in Galway.”

However, he did accept that there were “weaknesses” in the consultation process with local communities: “We need to look at a better means of engagement because it seems to me that local communities oftentimes are fearful of things they don't know. And I believe it's important that local communities know fully what's at stake here in terms of receiving people into communities. It's working well in many parts of the country.”

Protests also halted plans to develop direct provision centres in Roosky on the Roscommon-Leitrim border and in Moville, Co Donegal.

But despite the recent controversies, Minister Flanagan said that it 'was not the end' of direct provision centres, saying: "We need to provide accommodation to very vulnerable people.

"There are some people who want it abolished, some people who want to see improvements, and that includes myself, and there are others who believe that we should have perhaps a more liberal system.

"It's incumbent upon the State to provide international protection to people while their cases are being processed and that involves very basic essentials – a roof over your head, some basic food, a small allowance – while your application is under consideration. And all of this is temporary and must be seen in this context."

Minister Flanagan said he plans to "streamline services so that those whose applications have been dealt with are no longer in direct provision."

“Of course they would leave direct provision in the morning if it was inhumane and if their dignity was lost," he said.

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