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Thoughts on 'Working Group on Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers' Final Report

When a system is so bad for such a long time, any change to it, coming after many years of waiting seems very positive and applausable…

The Direct Provision System (DPS) and the newly announced changes are a typical example of such a situation.

All of the changes are based on a vision that the much criticised, sometimes called “inhumane” and “not fit for purpose” DPS is here to stay.

It is a pity and wasted opportunity that the working group could not look beyond the boundaries of the DPS and brought in reforms to fix some issues rather than being more creative and, well, asylum seeker –centric.

Fundamentally, the DPS is a long buffer zone of waiting, passing time and, despite the newly introduced changes, uncertainty…

No one can argue against increased financial assistance to asylum seekers but increasing the weekly allowance from €19.10 to €38.74 for adults, and from €9.60 €29.80 for children is nowhere near any amount that an adult can live on.

Before anyone jumps in, No, one’s life does not revolve around just factory made free breakfast-lunch-dinners served at the direct provision centres, and a free room and a bed. €38.74 a week (€155 a month) is not a sum that any adult can have a normal life with. Remember, being an asylum seeker is not a crime or a guilt that one should be ashamed of and therefore live on whatever is granted… Asylum seekers, irrelevant of the outcome of their applications deserve the right to live a normal life. Normal in the sense of being able to go out for a drink, being able to buy a book or a present for their children… I know it from 7 years of direct experience, the small hand-out of money is not just a simple matter of economic meanness but a very well calculated political decision to make sure no asylum seeker feels normalised and starts setting in roots before the state decides one way or the other… But time does not stop, people get older, people miss hugely important opportunities, some never to be had again…

“Young people in the asylum process, who have been here for five years or more, should be allowed go to third level in the same way EU and Irish nationals can”

How on earth can a state put on hold somebody’s education for 5 years? Off all things, irrelevant of their length, ‘legal’ status, any asylum seeker that can find a place in 3rd level education should be allowed to do so. Let the education institutions decide if someone is qualified enough to get a place or not… Education, or the lack of, is in many ways how the foundations of life-long disadvantages are established in our society.

“Any new applicants should get a “final quality decision” within 12 months” and “International Protection Bill should be enacted urgently”.

”final quality decision” is bad in 2 ways: a) it is final and there will be little or no chance to appeal and b) is based on swift removals in case of a negative outcome. For a smaller number of applicants this may be a faster track to being allowed to stay in the country but for majority it will also be a fast and definite track to be removed, in other words, deported.

“For those already in the system more than five years – about 3,350 – the report recommends they have their cases fast-tracked and either be granted residency or have their deportation order revoked. “

After having spent 5 years in the DPS, why can’t these people be given the full residency status? 5 years is already a very long time to spend in DPS.

“The right to work for people who have been in the system for nine months or more should be provided when the single procedure is operating efficiently”.

This is a typical example of not willing to address the real issue…  From Day 1, why can’t people not work if employers are happy to employ them?

“All families should have access to cooking facilities, with ingredients provided by the accommodation manager, and their own private living space “in so far as practicable””

Indeed, “in so far as practicable” is the key fall-back position here… within the current DPS accommodation centres it will not be possible unless the buildings are significantly altered. Families need home, not some half-way pretended solutions…

Finally, there are talks of savings to be achieved from these changes. Up to €195 million… This money is not going to be fed back into the asylum care but be given to the government to bail some rich people out…

The working group missed a huge opportunity to provide proper care for asylum seekers.

For many asylum cases the legal documentation, the process of arguing your case, providing evidence etc. is going to continue to be complex and difficult. Having a fast tracked “final solution” system may well lead to much increased levels of deportations.

People, who come with fear and hungry tummies, also bring their capable minds and skilful hands. So long the DPS stays today’s ‘reforms’ have great potential for tomorrow’s renewed problems…

A caring state would rather deal with people’s fears and enable them to feed their own tummies using their own capable hands and minds…

I don’t believe that these changes will address any of the fundamental problems reported for years…

I don’t believe that the new regime will be as fast tracked as it sounds – due to the complex nature of applications and dependency to a number of external agencies and factors, both within the Irish state and EU

Would love to say yes to some changes, but NO! the DPS must go…

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