Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams has criticised the current direct provision system and expressed his “serious concern at the dangerous and inhumane conditions that exist in many of the direct provision centres”.
The Louth TD raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil.
The Taoiseach confirmed to him that the working group, under Mr. Justice Bryan McMahon, which is looking at all of the issues, will report in March. Mr. Kenny also revealed that there has been an increase in applications for asylum of 51%.
Gerry Adams said:
“The government needs to move beyond the rhetoric of concern for asylum seekers in Direct Provision centres and move speedily to consult widely on this issue, produce a Bill and bring it before the Dáil.
The government needs to urgently address the many concerns about direct provision centres that have been raised by TDs, Amnesty International, the Irish Refugee Council and others, including ending the secrecy that often surrounds them.
A first step in this would be to extend the Ombudsman’s remit to the Direct Provision Centres and include the administration of the centres within the Freedom of Information rules.
The Direct Provision system was originally intended to accommodate asylum seekers for six months. Today almost half of the 4,324 people living in the system have been there for five years and many have been there longer than that.25% of people living in the centres have been there for more than six years. At least one person has been in the system for 14 years. In addition recent figures from the Minister for Justice have revealed that 61 asylum seekers have died in direct provision since 2002. 16 of these were under five. This is unacceptable.
Conditions in the centres are also unacceptable. They are overcrowded with families often sharing one room.
To the government’s shame around one third (1529) of those in the 34 DP centres are children. This creates its own difficulties. In the last five years the social services have been alerted to over 1500 child protection or welfare concerns
Successive Irish governments have paid private contractors over €850 million to run these centres since 2000. Some own more than one centre and some have received more than €100 million in state funding.
There is also serious concern at the inspection process surrounding conditions in DP centres. This needs to be carried out in a thorough and confidential manner by an independent body. This should include impromptu inspections where the DP centres do not receive advance notice.
The Direct Provision centres and system is a blight on the state. It reflects a government attitude which in previous years created the Magdalen laundries and the residential homes. The system should be dismantled and a new, more humane and transparent and accountable system put in place which provides dignity for those who are fleeing torture and hardship and want to build a new life in a new place.”
Concluding the Louth TD said:
“Sinn Féin has long campaigned in support for those Irish citizens who are living and working in the USA and who have no legal status.
This campaign has also been supported by the Taoiseach and all of the parties in the Dáil. It’s only fair that we treat people who come to our country the way we want our people to be treated when they travel to other states.”