Thursday, 20 June 2019 - Marking World Refugee Day the Irish Refugee Council reflects on welcome changes in Ireland for people seeking asylum and refugees, but highlight that much more needs to be done to ensure that Ireland leads and sets positive examples both at home and abroad.

“In the last few years we have seen significant changes in the Irish asylum process. A right to work became a reality for some people as the Supreme Court ruled that the blanket prohibition, that had been in place for nearly 20 years, was unconstitutional. More recently, the Department of Justice and NGOs, led by local communities, commenced a Community Sponsorship pilot in Ireland, and the Department of Education announced a reduction in the criteria for young school leaver’s to access support to continue their education beyond secondary school.”

“In addition to this, the Irish Navy has, over 11 missions, rescued more than 18,000 displaced people from drowning, bringing home with them the gravity of the humanitarian crisis still happening in the Mediterranean. Ireland has also taken 58 people who were rescued by humanitarian search and rescue boats which were prevented from disembarking in ports in Malta and Italy. Nearly every University in Ireland has a scholarship programme or support structures for people in the asylum process. There was cross party support to return to the earlier definition of family in our asylum legislation; one which is more humane and understanding of family dynamics, civil partnerships and LGBT relationships.”

“The movement calling for an end to the system of Direct Provision has also continued to gather momentum and the last few weeks have seen more than 140 groups, people and organisations making submissions to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice in relation to the manner in which we treat people once they have arrived to Ireland.”

“Against this backdrop however, the outlook for a person arriving in Ireland to seek protection is bleak. They are likely to be one of 760 people in ad hoc emergency accommodation: hotels and B&Bs across the country with little or no support bar that coming from local members of the community. They will probably have to wait 15 months for a first instance decision. These are symptoms of a system that is not working. We outlined earlier this year what an alternative approach could be, and are optimistic that collectively we can achieve the change that is so critically needed.”

“Direct Provision will be 20 years in existence at the end of this year. To achieve change, we need forward thinking. We need to aspire to, and move towards, an Ireland that we can all be proud of and stand behind. There are many people seeking asylum and refugees in Ireland that are willing and able to contribute to that change. There are also strong communities campaigning and working for change; the power for change lies with people as much as government.”

- ENDS -

Notes to Editor

Irish Refugee Council Submission to Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality

Today our thoughts and solidarity are with people everywhere who have overcome and struggled against persecution, and those who continue to do so today.