Direct Provision must end if Ireland is serious about the rights of children, says Irish Refugee Council

Posted On: January 12, 2016

Media Release, 12 January 2016

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 The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will examine Ireland’s record on children’s rights on January 14th. One of the issues that they will consider is Direct Provision.  In the view of the Irish Refugee Council it is time for this international body to call for this system and its successor, Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres, to be replaced with a humane and dignified reception system.

In May 2015, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, UNICEF Ireland and the Children’s Rights Alliance issued a report from children and young people in Ireland.  In the report, a thirteen year old girl living in a Direct Provision centre is quoted as saying “No matter how much of an optimist you are, there is no good from Direct Provision.” If the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child wants to give serious weight to the voices of children themselves, then they should hold Ireland accountable for failing these children.

Several attempts have been made to reduce the potential harm to asylum seeking and refugee children, most recently in recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process, the increase in the allowance for children, the intention to speed up the decision making process in the International Protection Act 2015 and the establishment of new centres under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.  None of these end the practice of requiring children to live in communal institutions alongside complete strangers.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in May 2015 found serious concerns in relation to child protection and welfare services for children in Direct Provision.  Their findings included:  physical or mental illness of parents impacting on capacity to provide quality care for children; mental health issues for children and parents; lack of clothes and toys; parent(s) isolating themselves and their children from networks and support services.  In addition, amongst the protection concerns were proximity of children to unknown adults living on the same site and inappropriate contact by adults towards some children.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said,

“The system of Direct Provision is detrimental to the welfare and development of children. Increasing the allowance paid to parents, sprucing up play spaces or an intention to decrease the time spent in these institutions cannot protect children from the harm that comes from living in such unsuitable environments. Having a situation where children and young people are living in close proximity to unknown adults does not appear to concern Irish state authorities.”

Conlan added:

“The system of Direct Provision has been criticised extensively by national and international bodies but the government seems reluctant to accept that alternative models are available which will be less costly to the state and will truly serve the needs of people seeking protection in Ireland.  No child who has spoken about Direct Provision has asked for it to be changed, they just want Direct Provision to end, and it is their voices that should be given prominence by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.”

 

ENDS

 

Contact

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer, 085 858 5510

NOTES

The €6 increase in the allowance given to children in the Direct Provision system is the first increase to the payment in sixteen years.

The report of the DYCA, UNICEF Ireland and the CRA is Picture Your Rights: A report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from children living in Ireland

The HIQA press release and report

Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process, June 2015

IRC report on children in Direct Provision (2012):  State-Sanctioned Child Poverty and Exclusion