Let asylum seekers work in public health, says expert

Let asylum seekers work in public health, says expert

Working in the State public health services would only be permitted if applicants held the necessary qualifications, however. Picture: File photo

An expert report on ending direct provision has recommended making it easier for asylum seekers to work in the health service.

The report, led by former secretary-general of the European Commission Catherine Day, is to be presented to Cabinet on Tuesday.

It recommends the removal of the restriction on applicants for international protection, who have permission to access the labour market, from working for public health employers. 

Working in the State public health services would only be permitted if applicants held the necessary qualifications, however.

It is understood the report also recommends a move to "own door" type accommodation, with better provision for families and more options for those awaiting their asylum outcome, as well as giving Health Information and Quality Authority powers to monitor the safety and quality of direct provision centres.

Comprehensive training for centre managers has also been recommended in an effort to tackle how people are treated during and after the asylum process.

Urgent improvements have been recommended in helping asylum seekers access the right to work, as well as driving licenses and bank accounts. 

It has also called for a vast improvement in all aspects of the asylum process itself, including the need for vulnerability assessments on arrival, and greater educational support.

It is understood that the report recommendations seek to make the system more compatible with human rights and human dignity and calls for an "all-of-Government approach".

The report went to justice minister Helen McEntee and children's minister Roderic O'Gorman on September 20.

Both ministers received a briefing on the report from Ms Day that week, and it is understood that housing minister Darragh O'Brien had a separate briefing, as some of the recommendations would likely involve his department if implemented.

All three of the departments involved have met a number of times in the weeks since to discuss the report and their next steps.

Although the report is seen as an important step to ending the current system, a more significant white paper is currently being drafted in a cross-Government capacity and is due to be published by the end of the year.

Mr O'Gorman's department has taken on responsibility for direct provision and ending the system "within the lifespan of this Government", however, it has admitted that centres will stay open in the "short to medium term".

It is understood the report is to be launched virtually on Wednesday.

At Cabinet, Mr O'Gorman also proposed a number of amendments to the controversial mother and baby home legislation.

The bill has been at the centre of controversy for weeks as the records, taken during the Commission of Investigation into the Mother and Baby Homes, are due to be sealed for 30 years, against the wishes of some survivors and with the support of others.

It is understood that the proposed amendments go some way to allow survivors to access certain elements of their testimony. 

However, Government sources say that they were unsure if other members of the Cabinet would agree to the changes to the bill. 


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