The Challenges of Life after Direct Provision

Posted On: 6 May 2014

PR Counting Report


On May 7th, the IRC will launch a new report, ‘Counting the Cost: Barriers to Employment after Direct Provision’ which examines what happens after people have moved on from the Direct Provision.

Between February and April 2014 the Irish Refugee Council interviewed 20 people living across Ireland about their experiences of becoming self-sufficient after they transitioned from life in the Direct Provision system to one outside it. The people involved were asked about their backgrounds prior to coming to Ireland, their experiences in Direct Provision, and about their attempts to prepare for, and find work afterwards.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council and author of the report said, “Our work brings us into contact with individuals and families who are living in Direct Provision on a daily basis.  However, we knew rela­tively little about the experience of life after Direct Provision. This research explores what happens to people when they receive their papers and move into the community, with a particular focus on their employment situation.”

Through the personal accounts of those interviewed, the report demonstrates a strong commitment and determination to learn and work in order to build a better future and provide for both themselves and their families. All interviewees’ spoke about their experiences in Direct Provision and the impact it had on them and the people around them. The accounts demon­strate the effects of years spent at a remove from society: long gaps in employment and education history; a lack of supports and networks once outside of Direct Provision; the wasted skills and years lost in limbo. People spoke about a lack of confidence and ability to concentrate or remember, with many suffering from stress disorders and depression; thoughts of suicide were common, as well as disorien­tation and reduced motivation due to lost potential.

Sue Conlan went on to say, “The ability of people to support themselves and their families, to contribute towards the economy, to participate in communities, has been damaged as a result of the system in which they have been required to live. Far from enabling people to become self-sufficient, state policy and practice has deliberately placed barri­ers in the way, preventing those who seek asylum in Ireland from realising their full poten­tial and playing an active role in society.”

The report launches Wednesday 7th at 6pm in the Robert Emmet Lecture Theatre in Trinity College Dublin.

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer / +353 85 8585510

Notes to the editor:

Sue Conlan is available for interview

Speakers at the launch will be Lassane Ouedraogo, who spent six years in Direct Provision and received refugee status just over 12 months ago;  Sue Conlan, CEO of the IRC and author of the report; and Professor Bridget Anderson, author of ‘Us and them? The dangerous politics of immigration control’ (Oxford University Press, 2013).  The meeting will be chaired by Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness,  Patron of the IRC.

The research was funded by the US Embassy in Dublin.

Direct Provision:
In November 1999, a government decision was taken to establish a central directorate “to deal with matters relating to the dispersal of asylum seekers throughout the country and preparation of plans for a system of direct provision of housing, health needs etc. The decision that the state would provide directly for the needs of asylum seekers has given rise to a system that has become known as ‘Direct Provision’ full board and lodging with a nominal personal allowance (€19.10 per adult / €9.60 per child) in centres funded by the state but run (and largely owned) by private companies and dispersal on a ‘no choice’ basis around the country. The system was created out of a crisis due to the sharp increase in the numbers of people seeking asylum at the time.

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

~ Asylum seekers do not have the right to work.

~ The average time spent in Direct Provision is 3yrs, with some waiting as long as 7yrs for a decision.

~ There are currently over 4,000 people living in Direct Provision, a third are children.