New direct provision system needs legislative oversight, Law Society says

New direct provision system needs legislative oversight, Law Society says

The Law Society of Ireland has said legislative oversight is needed for the overhaul of the direct provision system. Pictured is Ballyhaunis Direct Provision Centre.

The Law Society of Ireland has raised concerns around a “legislative gap” on proposed reforms for direct provision, adding that the new system "must be grounded in the principles of human rights, respect for diversity and respect for privacy and family life."

In February, the Government published a white paper on ending direct provision.

The paper states that by 2024, a new not-for-profit model to replace Direct Provision will be set up with people placed in State-owned centres for up to four months and then supported to move into local housing.

Speaking ahead of UN World Refugee Day on Sunday, June 20, the Law Society welcomed the reforms outlined in the recent paper but raised concerns that the proposed new system lacks a legislative foundation.

“Reform has taken place on a policy level but we must move away from the non-statutory structure of direct provision that has been in place since its inception,” said Sinéad Lucey, chairwoman of the Law Society’s Human Rights and Equality Committee.

We need a system that cannot be changed on an ad-hoc basis or without legislative oversight.

Ms Lucey said Ireland had made a commitment to meet the minimum standards as outlined in the EU directive on reception conditions.

“It is our hope that Ireland would go beyond the minimum, and we want to avoid the lack of clarity around minimum standards that currently exists. Any system which is based on the principles of human rights must include certain legal guarantees as to minimum standards,” she said.

“It must also provide legal remedies for any failure by the State to achieve those standards. National law and policy needs to be assessed against the requirements of the directive."

Ms Lucey added that it is currently "questionable" whether applicants are provided with an adequate standard of living.

Direct provision accommodation cost the State €175m last year, an almost 36% increase on 2019.

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