Direct provision should end by 2023, says new government report

Direct provision should end by 2023, says new government report

Under the system recommended in the new report, there would be a three stage process and people would stay in state-owned accommodation centres for no more than three months. File Picture of a room in the Glenvera Hotel Direct Provision centre in Cork City centre.

An advisory group's report on how Ireland processes asylum seeking applications is to recommend the complete abolition of the current direct provision system.

The report of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support, including Accommodation, to Persons in the International Protection Process, is to be published later today.

The report will recommend introducing a new permanent reception system with a three stage process.

This new system would also save the state almost €36m.

The three stage process would include an initial reception stage, with people accommodated in state-owned centres for up to three months before moving into own door accommodation at stage two.

Stage three is for people who receive international protection or a permission to remain in Ireland. Under the new system, they would continue to benefit from these supports for up to 18 months after their permission is granted.

The report also calls for this new system to be in place by mid 2023.

The Department of Justice's Research and Data Analytics Unit found that in 2019, the current system cost roughly €178.5m. It estimated that if the new system had been applied in 2019, it would have cost roughly €142.6m, representing a saving of €35.9m.

Dr Catherine Day led the advisory group, along with the Movement for Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), Nasc and the Irish Refugee Council.

Central issues targeted by the report include the long processing times, the right to work and access services, and the lack of oversight over the current model.

The report recommends the ban on asylum seekers accessing driving licences to be addressed immediately, and making labour market access permission available to everyone who has been in the system for three months.

The advisory group also recommends the establishment of a one-off, simplified, case-processing approach to clear the current backlog in cases by 2022.

This new approach would apply to all applicants who have been in the system for two years or more by the end of 2020.

Members of the public during a Direct Provision Protest at Leinster House on Kildare Street Dublin earlier this year. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Members of the public during a Direct Provision Protest at Leinster House on Kildare Street Dublin earlier this year. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Those in this situation would be given leave to remain in Ireland for five years, and be given the option to continue with their application or withdraw it.

The report also recommends the introduction of binding targets for all new applicants from 2023 onwards.

These include a six-month deadline for the International Protection Office to make a first instance decision, and a six-month deadline for the International Protection Appeals Tribunal to make a decision on an appeal.

A new comprehensive system of oversight must also be introduced, to ensure that the recommendations are implemented, according to the report.

It says a cabinet committee should meet regularly and report to government every six months.

An independent body to monitor and evaluate progress should also be created, as well as an extension of the Ombudsman's powers to include investigating complaints about the processes leading up to decisions on cases.

Nasc said that they would like to thank the "tireless work" of Dr Catherine Day, as well as acknowledging the contribution of the international protection applicants and direct provision residents.

Nasc said they helped shape and inform the report's recommendations.

"We unequivocally welcome the recommendation to end 'the congregated and segregated accommodation of applicants for international protection'," said Nasc CEO, Fiona Finn.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said that many of the recommendations, if implemented, have the power to be "genuinely transformative."

"We look forward to exploring the housing recommendations in greater detail via input into the proposed Government White Paper, especially through research we are currently working on. More generally the focus now shifts to Government."

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