- an end to the current system of accommodating asylum seekers, known as Direct Provision;
- the right to work for asylum seekers;
- the development of an alternative not-for-profit reception system that respects basic human rights principles;
- more transparent decision-making;
- an independent appeals and complaints commission;
- improved legal support for people making asylum applications.
ISSUES & CAMPAIGNS
Protection & Direct Provision
Fair Work Standards
Direct Provision is the current system of accommodating asylum seekers in Ireland. Asylum seekers are housed in residential institutions known as Direct Provision centres across the country, with 35 centres in total. Direct Provision is intended to provide for the basic needs of asylum seekers as their asylum applications are being processed.
- The average length of stay in Direct Provision is more than four years, with many having spent up to 10 or 12 years living in these conditions;
- Three meals are provided at set times each day – residents have no right to cook for themselves;
- Residents live in shared accommodation, with some sharing rooms with up to eight people of different backgrounds and nationalities.
- An allowance of €19.10 is provided on a weekly basis, a rate which has not increased since the establishment of the system in the year 2000.
- Asylum seekers have no right to work in Ireland – unlike most EU member states;
- The standards of accommodation and living conditions vary widely from centre to centre – there are no national standards for Direct Provision centres;
- Direct Provision centres are managed by private contractors on a for-profit basis, on behalf of the State.
- There is no independent complaints mechanism and despite repeated calls, the Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction of Direct Provision centres.
- Physical and mental health issues among residents are very common. Asylum seekers are 5 times more likely to experience mental health issues and psychiatric conditions.
Direct Provision was designed as short-term accommodation but many asylum applicants experience lengthy stays, which is associated with declining physical and mental health. The current system creates barriers to integration and results in social exclusion. Asylum seekers are not entitled to work, thus being forced to rely on the State and further hindering integration while compounding mental health issues.
Ireland is one of only two of the 28 EU member states to have opted out of the EU ‘Reception Directive’ which sets out minimum standards of reception conditions for asylum applicants, including access to the labour market and vocational training six months after making their application. There are approximately 4,500 asylum seekers living in 35 Direct Provision centres across Ireland, including approximately 1,500 children. In the Limerick area, there are nearly 400 asylum seekers living in four Direct Provision centre’s. Of these, approximately 50 are children. With the length of time in the asylum process ranging from less than a year to more than seven years, these children spend a significant proportion of their childhood in direct provision accommodation.
For more information on Direct Provision, download our briefing outlining the key issues: Briefing: Direct Provision_Key issues
Doras Luimní established a community campaign group ‘End Direct Provision Limerick’, in September 2014, which comprises residents of the four Direct Provision centres in the Limerick region and concerned individuals, activists and academics in Limerick with an interest in the issue.
Doras Luimní and the Irish Refugee Council launched a proposal to clear the asylum backlog in December 2014. The proposal calls on the Minister for Justice to grant permission to live in Ireland to various categories of people who have been trapped in Direct Provision as a result of the failed asylum system in Ireland.
Doras Luimní carried out a public awareness campaign entitled Invisible Children, in conjunction with the Irish Refugee Council, to highlight the physical, social and psychological impact on children of growing up in asylum seekers accommodation. The installation replicates a typical family room in Direct Provision.
NGO Forum on Direct Provision
Doras Luimní is also a member of the NGO Forum on Direct Provision, a nation-wide network of organisations campaigning for change, in order to protect the health and welfare of asylum seekers and their children living in these institutions. The forums priority is to ensure that the human rights of those currently living in the Direct Provision system are respected. Current members of the Forum include: AkiDwA, Barnardos, BeLonG To LGBT Youth Services, Crosscare Migrant Project, Cultúr, FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), Galway Refugee Support Group, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference Refugee & Migrant Project, The Integration Centre, The Irish Refugee Council, The Jesuit Refugee Service, Mayo Intercultural Action, Nasc, SPIRASI, and Tralee International Resource Centre.