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Topical Issues Debate Dáil Eireann
4 October 2017
Maureen O’Sullivan TD
Opening Statement by Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton TD
I want to thank the Deputy for raising this important matter.
Direct Provision is the system whereby State services are directly provided to protection applicants through the relevant Government Department or Agency. We do not know who or how many will arrive on our shores in need of or claiming protection. What we do know is that all applicants are offered immediate shelter, full board accommodation and a range of services such as health and education while their application for international protection is being processed.
Of course, no system is without room for further improvement. The Government commissioned retired Judge Dr. Bryan McMahon to Chair a Working Group to carry out a report into the protection process and the system of direct provision and that report was published in June of 2015. The report forms the basis for ongoing improvements across the entirety of the system involving all relevant Government Departments and Agencies.
In June 2017, the third and final audit of the implementation of the recommendations contained in that report was completed and is available on the Department of Justice and Equality website www.justice.ie and this shows that the vast majority of recommendations are either implemented, partially implemented or in progress.
The International Protection Act 2015 was commenced on 31 December 2016. A key feature of this new legislation is the introduction of a new single application procedure which will, in time, accelerate the protection determination process and reduce the length of time which applicants spend in State provided accommodation.
A number of recommendations from the McMahon report related to accommodation and services are being rolled out including full independent living at the Mosney Accommodation centre, cooking facilities in many other centres, proactive engagement with residents and agencies through the 'friends of the centre' model and the engagement of an independent assessor to carry out a nutritional audit in centres that are currently catering fully to residents. In addition, the remit of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children has been extended to cover those who are living in State provided accommodation.
The Department has also co-ordinated the preparation of a multi-departmental information booklet for persons who have been granted any type of ‘leave to remain’ in the State and a number of NGOs have been awarded monies under the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) specifically to provide assistance to move out of State provided accommodation.
It is clear that significant improvements have either been implemented or are being implemented across all aspects of the system of supports for those in the protection process.