23 February 2017
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., and the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, T.D., have announced further significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the McMahon Report.
92% of the Report’s 173 recommendations are now implemented, partially implemented or are in progress. This is a significant increase on the 80% reported in the first audit of progress published last June. The process of implementation will continue.
Noting that some 121 of the recommendations are now implemented, with a further 38 recommendations partially implemented or in progress, the Tánaiste said:
“I gave a clear commitment last June when Minister Stanton and I published the first audit of progress to coincide with the anniversary of the Report’s publication that the process of implementation would continue. I am especially pleased that the key recommendation of the Working Group, the introduction of a single application procedure within our international protection process, has been implemented, following commencement of the International Protection Act, 2015 on 31st December”.
Under the single procedure, an applicant will make one application, and will have all grounds for seeking international protection and to be permitted to remain in the State examined and determined in one process. This will positively address another key recommendation of the Working Group, the length of time which applicants spend in the process and consequently in the Direct Provision system.
The Tánaiste also confirmed that legal issues around the extension of the remit of the Offices of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children to include access for residents in Direct Provision centres have now been clarified. “I am delighted that discussions between my Department officials, other relevant Government Departments and the Office of the Attorney General have reached a stage where we can now give effect to this recommendation”.
The McMahon report also focused on improvements on living conditions in Direct Provision Centres. In that regard a programme of independent living is being rolled out across the centres to enable residents to have access to self-catering options. Self-catering is now in operation in Mosney with further kitchens installed and becoming available for use by residents in centres in Clonakilty, Kinsale Road, Knocklisheen and St Patrick’s in Monaghan. In addition a food hall was opened at Mosney in January this year which allows residents to acquire their own food through a points system. Variants of this system will be rolled out to other centres such as Athlone.
The Tánaiste also pointed to the significant improvements that have been made in dealing with legacy cases within the system. A recent analysis within the Department confirms the significant improvements in the length of time spent in the system. When the Working Group examined the figures in 2015 there were 2,695 people in Direct Provision for 3 or more years. This has now been reduced by 55% to 1,204 people.
Similarly the number of people in the direct provision system for 5 years or more reduced by 58% from 1,946 persons to 811. Of these, only 251 are awaiting a final decision on their protection application and the vast majority of these cannot be processed for various reasons such as pending judicial review proceedings. This means that, in effect, almost all cases in the direct provision system over 5 years that can be processed have been.
Acknowledging the support of a range of other Government Departments and Agencies in preparing the report, Minister Stanton said:
“Today’s report highlights the efforts which are being made across a number of Departments and Agencies to give effect to the Working Group’s recommendations. Within my own area, I am particularly encouraged by the very positive progress which the report outlines on the actions being taken to improve the daily lives and the living conditions of applicants and their families within the Direct Provision system. This is in line with our commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to reform the Direct Provision system. I am committed to ensuring that this important work will continue during the year.”
The Tánaiste and Minister Stanton both identified the introduction on an independent living system in Mosney as a key enhancement to the services being provided to those in the protection system. Building on the success of this project, this will be rolled out to other centres during the course of 2017 and beyond.
It is expected that information will immediately be made available by both the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children to residents in all accommodation centres.
The second audit of progress is available on the Department's website at the following link: Second Audit of Progress
Notes for Editors:
* The Report of the Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process and Supports to Asylum Seekers contains a total of 173 recommendations, many of which have implications for a number of Government Departments and services. The Report was published in June 2015.
* The first audit of progress published last June on the Department’s website showed that 91 of the recommendations were implemented, with a further 49 recommendations partially implemented or in progress. This represented significant progress on some 80% of the Working Group’s recommendations.
* The second audit of progress being published today covers the period from June 2016 to the end of January. This shows that 92% of the recommendations have been implemented (121 recommendations), partially implemented or are in progress (38 recommendations), a substantial increase on the figure published last June.
* The International Protection Act, 2015 was fully commenced on 31st December. Under the single procedure, an applicant will make one application, and will have all grounds for seeking international protection and to be permitted to remain in the State examined and determined in one process. The single procedure has replaced the multi-layered and sequential protection application system under the Refugee Act, 1996, which has been repealed.