Speaking today in response to the address by Ms. Catherine McGuinness on the topic of Children's Rights in Ireland, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly highlighted the chronic failure of the system of Direct Provision on children in this state.
“Unfortunately, the system of Direct Provision is another example of our failure to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Some have cited the system as a “new apartheid”, aimed at socially excluding asylum seekers, enforcing abject poverty and an abuse of basic human dignity.
“It is plain to see that living in an overcrowded and confined space with little or no access to study and recreational space, inappropriate diet coupled with the lack of resources and rationing has had a destructive impact on children in these centres.
“The Irish Refugee Council’s report on Children in Direct Provision outlined that one in three of all asylum seekers living in Direct Provision in Ireland are children.
“Some hugely concerning factors for children living within Direct Provision are:
•The centres do not have separate bathrooms, children then share communal bathrooms with grown men and women.
•Children can be exposed to violent and sexual behaviour.
•Child illness can also spread rapidly due to confined space
•No child benefit for asylum seeker children. Parents routinely must buy school books etc. from their €19.10 allowance.
•There is often difficulty with transportation to schools from DP centres
•There’s no space in DP centres for children to do homework.
“At the time of the launch of this report Ms. Catherine McGuinness stated that ‘the recommendations called for in the report are practical and achievable’.
“That was September 2012. I would now ask, in light of all the current difficulties and sufferings of asylum seeker children, how much movement and progress has been made?
“The measure of a society is in how it treats its children.
“I fear the realities being experienced by hundreds of children in Direct Provision centres is a very poor indication of where this state's priorities lie.”