05/08/2021

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New plan for asylum seekers in Ireland as Direct Provision to be phased out

Purpose-built shorter stay centres for asylum seekers in 'orientation'

Protest at the Montague Hotel.

Protest at the Montague Hotel Direct Provision Centre in Emo

The end is in sight for direct provision centres with the publication of a plan to cease the practice of paying firms to house asylum seekers in former hotels and other communal buildings on a long term basis.

Instead, new arrival centres are planned during what is termed a four-month 'orientation' phase. At the end of this period applicants, people whose protection claims are still being processed will get their own room or own door accommodation in the community which they will have to rent.

The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has published a White Paper to End Direct Provision and to establish a new International Protection Support Service. His Department says this White Paper sets out a new Government policy to replace Direct Provision, which will be phased out over the next four years.

A statement said a new system for accommodation and supports for applicants for International Protection will be established. Minister O'Gorman is proposing a new system that would see people who are applying for protection will be helped to integrate into Ireland from day one, with health, housing, education, and employment supports at the core of the system.

A statement says that the new system will be grounded in the principles of "human rights, respect for diversity and respect for privacy and family". It is claimed that it is being designed to offer "greater support and greater autonomy to International Protection applicants". It will operate on a not-for-profit basis.

Under the new system, when people arrive in Ireland seeking International Protection, at Phase One they will stay in one of a number of new Reception and Integration Centres for no more than four months.  It is claimed these centres will be newly built to a "high specification and will be operated by not-for-profit organisations on behalf of the State".

A statement says that during this orientation period, people will receive integration supports to help them adjust to living in Ireland. This will include English language tuition and employment activation supports

After their first four months in Ireland, people whose protection claims are still being processed will move to accommodation in the community. "This will be own-door or own-room accommodation, for which they will pay a means-tested rent," said a statement.

Applicants will be entitled to seek paid work after six months, and they will be encouraged and supported to do so. Integration supports will continue to be available to people who need them.

The transition to the new system will be led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Progress will be monitored by a Programme Board whose membership will include non-government stakeholders. It is envisaged that the new system will be fully operational by December 2024.

Publishing the White Paper, Minister O’Gorman said: “As a Government, we committed to end Direct Provision and replace it with a new system that would be run on a not-for-profit basis and centred on human rights. Today’s White Paper sets out how we are going to do that. Under the new system, people seeking International Protection in Ireland will be encouraged and supported to integrate from day one.”

“The accommodation will be own-door for families and provide the privacy and independence so many were not afforded over the past two decades. Single people will have own-room accommodation, ending the shared dormitory-styled rooms associated with the current system.

“We have seen the huge groundswell of solidarity for people in the current Direct Provision system. Irish people want to be proud of the support offered to people who come here seeking protection. In making a home here, they strengthen and enrich our communities.

“This is a new approach to supporting the needs of International Protection applicants in Ireland. It will be run on a not-for-profit basis, and in order to be truly transformative, it will rely on strong engagement and cooperation between the State and not-for-profit organisations. I am looking forward to creating new partnerships with non-governmental organisations as we begin the process of bringing this new system to fruition,” said the Minister.

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