The Irish Refugee Council welcomes the seventh annual report of Ireland’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection

Posted On: December 2, 2014

DSC_0578Media Statement, 2 December 2014

The Irish Refugee Council welcomes the seventh annual report of Ireland’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Geoffrey Shannon. In particular we welcome the criticisms of the Direct Provision system and the recommendations for review.

Samanthan Arnold, Children and Young Persons’ Officer with the IRC said, “Shannon notes that children living in direct provision do not have the same access to services and care as non-asylum seeking children in Ireland. He contends that Ireland may be in breach of their international and Irish obligations to protect and promote the rights of the child and that the best interests principle, which is set out in international law and domestic law, in respect of the child’s welfare, is notably absent from the policy of direct provision.”

She went on to say, “Shannon reminds us that the best interest principle was the primary reason a family in Northern Ireland was successful in challenging a transfer to the Republic of Ireland. The court commented on the absence of the right to work and the requirement to live in a communal environment and therefore that the child’s best interests would be breached.”

Sue Conlan, CEO of the IRC, said “We welcome the endorsement by Geoffrey Shannon for the IRC’s proposals for a new reception system and hope that his review of the system in the context of the law and best practice will lead to significant changes in state support for asylum seekers in the near future.”

 Ends

 

Notes

Seventh Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection

Direct Provision is the government policy which provides housing and board for asylum seekers in Ireland. At present one third of the residents are children, some of whom have been born in Direct Provision.

In reviewing the system, the recommendations put forward by the IRC should be taken into account:

  • Aim to process new asylum claims within six months.
  • Increase the weekly allowance currently paid to asylum seekers in line with increases in social welfare since 2000.
  • Restore universal child benefit for the children of asylum seekers.
  • Limit stays in asylum seeker centres to no more than 6 months, ensure such accommodation respects family life, and ensure independent complaints and inspection mechanisms.
  • Place child protection at the heart of the system, including the employment of appropriately trained staff within the accommodation system.
  • Move children from communal accommodation at the earliest possibility. Introduce systems to identify particularly vulnerable asylum seekers.
  • Grant asylum seekers the right to work and access to the private rental market after six months in a reception centre.

Direct Provision: Framing an alternative reception system for people seeking international protection

(Report on asylum seeking children and the children of asylum seekers commences on page 56)

As a separate issue, Shannon also notes that the use of Section 5 of the Child Care Act 1991, which provides for the care for children considered to be homeless, may need to be revised. Separated children in Ireland are in some counties taken into care utilising Section 5. For years, the IRC has advocated for the use of care orders to care for separately children rather than using section 4 or 5 of the Child Care Act 1991. We therefore welcome the recommendation to look at Section 5, and indeed many other provisions of the Act.

Additionally, Shannon notes that there are improvements ahead in Northern Ireland in relation to child victims of trafficking specifically the creation of a specialist legal support network. Shannon argues that the republic of Ireland should follow suit in honour of the Good Friday Agreement, but also to ensure that children on both sides of the border are protected. Northern Ireland are also looking at bringing in legal guardians for separated children who are victims of trafficking.

Shannon also discusses reform and changes in the area of ‘aftercare’ for children leaving the care of the state. The IRC also urges aftercare policy and legislative change to reflect the needs of all children leaving the care of the state, whether they are Irish or non-Irish. The IRC argues that no child should be placed in Direct Provision upon leaving care. Direct Provision is not an adequate solution for ‘aftercare’ planning.