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Direct provision must be replaced with a system that treats people humanely – Funchion

30 March, 2017 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Speaking today during Statements on Direct Provision, Sinn Féin TD for Carlow/Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion said that Direct Provision as it stands must be scrapped and that is failing children, adding that there is a need to introduce a new system which treats people humanely.

Deputy Funchion said:

“Direct Provision is often called the Magdalene Laundries of our time and with good reason.

“Centres are often referred to as ‘holding camps’ and ‘sites of deportability’. Similarly, the Free Legal Advice Centre states that these privately owned centres, administered by this Government, constitute a ‘direct provision industry’, which makes a profit on direct provision.

“It's a privatised system, initiated by Fianna Fáil, run by highly profitable private companies making over €50m a year. There remains no accountability or transparency and no clear process of tendering for these centres. There are no support services or expertise amongst staff working on sites.

“The issues surrounding child protection and children’s heath cannot be understated; families sharing single rooms in cramped facilities, no space for children to study in peace, children being in close proximity to strangers constantly, no place for recreation for children, no areas for visitors or school friends to come to spend time with them.  Direct Provision remains likened to an open prison with people spending years on end in facilities that were originally built for stays lasting six months.  

“There is no independent complaints mechanism for people living in Direct Provision, no Ombudsman or Children’s Ombudsman oversight, and no HIQA oversight. This is institutional abuse of the highest order with vulnerable people being exploited for massive profit.

“Children who have grown up in the system are in our school system. They study hard for their Leaving Cert and receive the points for college, only to be told they have no prospects for college or training, no chance to create a life and support themselves.

“The International Protection Act which was meant to solve this catastrophic system appears now to have been nothing but a Trojan Horse. It has put Direct Provision on a permanent footing and Asylum Seekers and NGO’s who co-operated with the Working Group are extremely disappointed; they feel used.

“The introduction last month of a new asylum application procedure has created chaos for thousands of people living in Direct Provision.  Asylum Seekers were sent a long application form with a totally unrealistic deadline. Appallingly, translations were done with Google Translate. People have made statements in error due to difficulties with the form which will inevitably jeopardise their applications in future.

“Direct Provision must be scrapped. There are other models which can be looked at and which NGO’s such as the Irish Refugee Council, Doras Luimní, and Nasc have been proposing.

“At a time of unprecedented refugee crises across the global community, when a focus on human rights is most needed, the whole system appears to be designed to facilitate and speed up deportations.

“We need to introduce a new system which treats people humanely; a system we can be proud of rather than feel shameful of.” 

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