Summary of Progress

 

2015-05-14 - Summary of progress – Final meeting of the Working Group

The Eighth (and final) Meeting of the Working Group on the Protection Process took place on 14 May 2015.

The main aim of the Eighth Meeting was to consider all of the recommendations provisionally agreed at the Sixth and Seventh Meetings of the Working Group having regard to the projected costs of the recommendations against the overall cost of the protection system as required by the Terms of Reference. Following consideration of a report from the Costings Sub Committee the recommendations were agreed.

The Chair informed the members that work on the drafting of the final report was continuing with a view to its submission to the Minister by the end of May.

The Chair recalled that the Terms of Reference require the Working Group to report to Government. Accordingly, Cabinet approval, a process that takes a couple of weeks, will be required to publish the report. In view of this it is anticipated that the publication of the report will take place in late June.

The Chair thanked the members for their commitment to the process and conscientiousness over the last 6 months. He stated his view that the outcome of that commitment and hard work would be a very substantial report that fulfils the task set by the Terms of Reference, namely to recommend practical measures that will enhance respect for the dignity of those in the system and improve the quality of their lives.

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2015-04-21/22 - Summary of progress

The Seventh Meeting of the Working Group on the Protection Process took place over two days on 21st and 22nd April 2015.

The main focus of the agenda was the consideration of the reports from the Sub Group level concerning the three themes identified in the Terms of Reference:

The Plenary considered and reached provisional agreement on a full set of recommendations across the three themes. It is not proposed to provide any further information at this stage in view of the provisional nature of the agreement reached pending consideration of the overall cost of the recommendations as required by the Terms of Reference. Work on the costings will be concluded over the coming weeks. In addition, work on the preparation of the final report is underway with a view to submitting it to the Minister by the end of May.

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2015-03-31 - Summary of progress

The Sixth Meeting of the Working Group on the Protection Process took place today.

Since the previous meeting on 13 March the members (or their nominees) have continued to meet in smaller working groups based on the three themes identified from the terms of reference:

Today the Plenary considered and reached provisional agreement on some proposals from the Sub Group level. It is not proposed to provide any further information on the proposals at this stage in view of the provisional nature of the agreement reached pending consideration of all proposals from the Sub Groups.

The Chair updated the Plenary on the time frame for the completion of its work. It is expected that the Working Group will complete its substantive deliberations before the end of April following which the Group’s report will be finalised as quickly as possible for submission to the Minister.

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2015-03-13 - Summary of progress

The fifth meeting of the Working Group on the Protection Process took place on 13 March 2015.

Since the previous meeting on 29 January the members (or their nominees) have continued to meet in smaller working groups based on the three themes identified from the terms of reference:

The meeting on 13 March heard oral submissions from:

The Chair provided a progress report to Members noting that substantial progress had been made since the first meeting on 10 November. He also noted that while the final report of the Working Group would not be ready to submit to the Minister before Easter the delay would be a matter of weeks. He urged all to continue their very impressive engagement to date to ensure that momentum is maintained.

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2015-01-29 - Summary of Progress

The fourth meeting of the Working Group on the Protection Process took place on 29 January 2015.

Since the previous meeting on 22 December the members (or their nominees) have met in smaller working groups based on the three themes identified from the terms of reference:

 

The agreed Work Programme (available on this webpage) identifies the lists of issues to be considered under each theme.

The meeting on 29 January had three purposes:

 

Feedback on the consultation process to date
The closing date for the making of written submissions was 23 January. In all 107 submissions have been received, 58 from adults, 31 from children, and 18 group submissions.

The members have undertaken visits to accommodation centres in Kerry, Cork, Laois, Limerick/Clare, Mosney and Waterford and have held consultation sessions with protections applicants in those regions. Further regional days are planned for Westmeath, Monaghan, Galway and Dublin. A consultation session with victims of trafficking/sexual violence has also been held and further sessions are planned with victims of torture and applicants who are LGBT. The assistance of local support groups and other groups in organising the sessions and encouraging applicants to attend has been invaluable.

Oral submissions to the full Working Group
A representative from each of the consultation sessions in Kerry, Cork, Limerick/Clare, Mosney and Waterford made oral submissions at the meeting eloquently describing their experiences of the protection system and the human costs of waiting indefinitely for a final decision on their cases.

Representatives from the remaining regions will be invited to make oral submissions to the next plenary.

The prescription charge
The burden that the prescription charge (€2.50 per item) places on those living in direct provision and receiving an allowance of €19.10 a week (or €9.55 in the case of a child) has been raised by many residents during the consultation process. The Working Group welcomed confirmation from the HSE representative that a resolution to the problem was imminent.

Reports from the Thematic Groups
The Chair of each of the Thematic Groups (viz. Chair of the Working Group, Dr Bryan McMahon in the case of the Theme 1 and Theme 2 formats and Ms Sophie Magennis, Head of Office, UNHCR in the case of the Theme 3 format) provided updates on their deliberations since the last plenary. In all six productive meetings had been held. A further four meetings of each Thematic Group are planned over the following five weeks in order that they can continue their deliberations and develop proposals for consideration by the full Working Group in due course. It will be a matter for the full Working Group to decide the final set of recommendations to be made to Government.

The next meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for 13 March 2015.

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2014-12-22 - Summary of Progress

The third meeting of the Working Group on the Protection Process took place on 22 December 2014.

Since the previous meeting on 19 November the members (or their nominees) have met in smaller working groups based on the three themes identified from the terms of reference:

The agreed Work Programme (available on this webpage) identifies the lists of issues to be considered under each theme.

The meeting on 22 December was in essence therefore a stock-taking exercise.

The Chair of each thematic (viz. the Chair of the Working Group, Dr Bryan McMahon in the case of the Theme 1 and Theme 2 formats and Ms Sophie Magennis, Head of Office, UNHCR in the case of the Theme 3 format) provided a report to the full Group on the progress of their deliberations so far. In all 10 meetings had been held with the Chairs reporting excellent engagement by all participants.

An intensive schedule of meetings is planed for the New Year for the thematic groups in order that they can continue their deliberations and develop proposals for consideration by the full Working Group in due course. It will be a matter for the full Working Group to decide the final set of recommendations to be made to Government. It was acknowledged that the complexity and interconnectedness of the issues under consideration, the importance of awaiting the outcome of the consultation process with those in the protection system, and the need to consider the cumulative cost of all recommendations militated against the submission of any interim recommendations to Government. The Group will focus its efforts on delivering its report to Government by the Easter target date.

The Chair of the Working Group also provided a progress report on the consultation process with those in the protection system. The closing date for written submissions is 9 January while the proposed regional consultation sessions and visits to accommodation centres will begin in mid-January with a view to completion in early February in order that the outcome can feed into the Group’s deliberations. A number of consultation sessions with particular groups of applicants including children, victims of torture, victims of trafficking/sexual violence, members of the LGBTI community will also be undertaken during that period.

There will be an opportunity for some protection applicants to make oral submissions to a full meeting of the Working Group.

The Working Group also agreed to invite a number of experts to make oral submissions to a future meeting.

The next full meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for 29 January 2014.

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2014-11-19 - Summary of Progress

The second meeting of the Working Group on the Protection Process took place on 19 November 2014.

The Group discussed the recent CA and TA High Court Judicial Review Judgement. It also discussed and agreed a general approach to consulting with protection applicants.  All recognised the importance of hearing the voices of protection applicants at an early stage so that they would inform the deliberations of the Group.

The consultation process will include a number of phases:

1.   A call for written submissions from residents of direct provision centres

2.   Regional consultation sessions with protection applicants and visits to some accommodation centres

3.   Consultations with particular groups of applicants including children, victims of torture, victims of trafficking/sexual violence, members of the LGBTI community

4.   An opportunity for some protection applicants to make oral submissions to a full meeting of the Working Group in the New Year.

 
The next full meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for 22 December 2014.

In advance of the 22 December the members of the Group will meet on several occasions in three smaller working groups focused on the  themes identified in the Work Programme agreed at the first meeting on 19 November (available on this web page):

These smaller working groups will consider the issues identified under each of the Themes and bring proposals to the full Working Group for consideration and decision in due course.

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2014-11-10 - Summary of Progress

The Chair, Dr Bryan McMahon convened the first meeting of the Working Group today. 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Francis Fitzgerald, T.D. and the Minister of State with special responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin T.D. attended.

Minister Fitzgerald and Minister of State Ó Ríordáin in their remarks emphasised the high priority that the Government attaches to improving the protection system and urged members to seize the opportunity presented to them. Both Ministers wished the Working Group well in its deliberations and noted that the range of experience and expertise of the membership would be of great assistance in the Group’s deliberations. Minister Fitzgerald indicated that she would welcome a report by Easter. 

The Chair in his opening remarks referred to the visits that he had paid in recent weeks to a number of direct provision centres and the useful insight that they had provided. He referred to the importance of finding a means of hearing directly from protection applicants so that the deliberations of the Group could be informed by their experiences. He also drew attention to the terms of reference and their focus on identifying improvements to the system rather than identifying alternatives to it.

The Group discussed its work programme and the working methods that it would adopt to ensure that its deliberations were conducted efficiently. It was agreed that the work of the Group would be approached on a thematic basis as follows:

Reception conditions 

Determination process 

The second meeting of the Working Group will take place on Wednesday, 19 November 2014.

10 November 2014

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