A few words in response to comments made by Minister Simon Coveney in your article, ‘Critics of direct provision ‘not living in real world’ — Coveney’, October 3, 2019, in which the minister stated: “People calling for an end to direct provision as if somehow we can magic over 7,000 people out of direct provision and into their own homes overnight; that is just not living in the real world.”
Firstly, this crisis did not magic out of the blue. It is a result of a steady, predictable decline in capacity in direct provision since 2017.
No one is excepting direct provision to be closed ‘overnight’ but they do expect their Government to have vision and long-term strategies and thinking across a number of social issues in Ireland at present, direct provision being one.
Just last week, we had an op-ed in a national newspaper in which we outlined a clear way to begin the process of moving towards a more sustainable and humane form of accommodation.
A huge amount has been spent on the direct provision system in the last 20 years — expenditure increased from €78m in 2018 to at least €120m this year, nearly allof this to the market without any long-term benefit or investment.
Fundamentally, the solution requires that accommodating people seeking asylum becomes a housing issue — not one sidelined and peripheral to wider housing policy.
A transition to a new model of accommodation for people seeking asylum should be one aspect of a long-term strategy to invest in housing via non-profit housing bodies for all people in need across our country.
To achieve change, we need forward-thinking, not magic. We need leadership and a genuine commitment to address this 20-year-old issue. Ending direct provision is possible, if the political will exists.
Irish Refugee Council