The Chair, Dr Bryan McMahon submitted the Final Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald and Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality and Drugs Strategy Mr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin today.
The Chair noted that the review undertaken by the Working Group was the first comprehensive review of the protection system since the introduction of Direct Provision 15 years ago. He said that the report was the culmination of seven months of intensive effort by all involved and commended the Members on their dedication to the task that they had undertaken.
The Report contains recommendations across all three themes identified in the terms of reference and around which the Group structured its work:
- improvements to existing arrangements for the processing of asylum applications with particular regard to the length of the process,
- improvements to the living conditions in Direct Provision aimed at showing greater respect for the dignity of persons in the system and improving their quality of life,
- improvements to the supports (e.g. financial, educational, health) for asylum applicants aimed at showing greater respect for the dignity of persons in the system and improving their quality of life.
It is a tribute to the openness with which the Members engaged in the process that all of the recommendations were agreed by consensus.
The Chair recalled that the terms of reference required the Working Group to report to Government. Accordingly, Cabinet approval will be required before the report can be published. The Chair expressed the hope that the report would be published speedily, particularly as it is anxiously awaited by those most directly concerned with its contents - the residents of the Direct Provision accommodation centres.
The terms of reference did not specify any particular time frame for the completion of the Working Group’s task but the expressed desire of the Ministers to receive a report as quickly as possible was noted and, together with the expectations of residents, influenced the intensity with which the Working Group approached its task. The Plenary met on eight occasions between 10 November 2014 and 14 May 2015 while the various Sub-groups met on 38 occasions between 25 November 2014 and 12 May 2015. In addition the Members undertook an extensive consultation process with residents of Direct Provision accommodation centres over the course of December 2014 and January and February 2015. The deliberations of the Working Group were informed by the views of those who participated in that process among others. The Chair acknowledged the invaluable input of the residents to the process and also acknowledged the input of the many other interested parties who made submissions or with whom the Working Group met.
23 June 2015