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 © Vukasin Nedeljkovic

21st October 2020, 15:04:53 UTC

The Irish Government today published the report by the expert group on Direct Provision, with its recommendations to the Government to end the Direct Provision system by 2023. This report is intended to be the basis for the Government’s White Paper, expected by the end of the year.

Amnesty International broadly welcomed the expert group’s recommendations but says this is just the beginning.

“The expert group’s report is just a first step in ending Direct Provision. The White Paper will be the test of the government’s commitments, so we’re calling on them to accept the recommendations and finally end this inhumane system,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.

“We welcome the proposed ending of Direct Provision in 2023, and the recommendations on how to make that happen. But the system has carried through 20 years of successive governments. At this stage, we will need detailed implementation plans with ironclad commitments and timelines that will outlast any shifts in the political landscape.

“The pandemic has also forced government to confront the brutal reality of Direct Provision’s accommodation system. So, the practical recommendations in this report such as own-door accommodation, as well as housing people in areas where they can actually access employment and education, will have profound impacts on people’s lives.

“The government needs to make sure that people can transition out of the system to affordable and accessible housing, and this has to be included in a broader response to the housing crisis. It isn’t a choice between housing people seeking protection, or other people in need. Both can and must be done, and the government needs to actively counter that narrative.

“We very much welcome the announcement today by the Ministers on progress on some of the expert group’s interim recommendations, published last June. The introduction of vulnerability assessments, which is long overdue, is an important step towards supporting survivors of torture and sexual violence, amongst others.

“The right to work is key to integration and independence, and we welcome the recommendation that the waiting period before those seeking asylum can seek work will be reduced. But there are other obstacles for protection seekers, such as access to bank accounts and driving licences. So, today’s announcement on driving licences is a practical step forward in this regard.

“The recommended six-month deadlines for deciding protection applications and appeals are welcome, so long as this does not impact quality of decisions. This could result in people’s claims being unfairly rejected and having to remain in the system. The proposed increase in resources for legal advice and support is urgently needed.”