Irish Refugee Council questions the real impact of the McMahon Report 12 months on
Posted On: June 30, 2016
Media Release, 30th June 2016
Today marks one year since the publication of the Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers, known as the McMahon Report. The Government reported on the 16 June 2016 that 91 recommendations have been fully implemented, 49 partially implemented or in progress, while the remaining 33 require further consideration. On paper this sounds like there is movement on the McMahon report, but the IRC questions whether this translates into practical changes and improvements for those who bear the brunt of failures within our asylum system. Despite claims about implementation, a haze of vagueness prevails over this entire document.
“This week alone we have heard reports of single people being moved from their room where they were sharing with one other person into unsuitable rooms intended to accommodate three people, against their wishes and with no regard to their needs. In other cases adults are still sharing rooms with an occupancy of up to eight people. This is not progress. In fact it is regressive and goes against the Government line that improvements are being made to better the lives of the people currently living in Direct Provision”, said Caroline Reid, Communications Officer with the Irish Refugee Council.
There has been movement for people who have been in the system for five years, but even for those with papers, their ability to move on from Direct Provision is limited due to the lack of any practical support from government departments.
A resident of Direct Provision, who waited seven years before being granted protection status said, “After years in the system, which shows that during that time poor decisions were made about our application for asylum, I am now trying to navigate the road to securing a place to live with my children. When you finally get that paper it’s a short celebration because soon after that you have to start another stressful journey which is a lonely one, with the question looming over you of ‘who would employ me after so many years out of the labour market?’ There are no supports in place for people like me to move on from Direct Provision. I can never get those seven years of my life nor my children’s lives back. They have been taken from us.”
Despite the limitations of the Working Group’s terms of reference, the report did present an opportunity to redress some of the worst aspects of the asylum system. This included providing people in the asylum system with the right to work in line with the rest of the EU which would afford people dignity, begin the process of integration, and would help in combating the long term dependency that this system is creating. But that was rejected by the Government which has maintained a prohibition on employment in the International Protection Act 2015.
Reid went on to say, “Furthermore, the document released by the Department of Justice and Equality in response to Parliamentary Questions about which recommendations have been implemented warrants further analysis by a critical eye and with a fine tooth comb. The problem with the statements and language used in this document is they’re so vague that the State can probably defend them, even if they have no practical effect, especially for the people currently residing in the Direct Provision system.”
The Terms of Reference of the Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers limited any discussion or ability of the Working Group members to put forward or discuss alterative types of reception to Direct Provision.
Irish Refugee Council response to the publication of the Working Group Report last year: