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 © Vukasin Nedeljkovic

26th February 2021, 10:11:10 UTC

In its initial response to the Government’s release of the ‘White Paper’, ahead of its full analysis, Amnesty said that today it broadly welcomed it and commended those involved for an ambitious vision that intends to protect the rights of those seeking safety and protection in Ireland. The real test will be how this is implemented, and how people within the system until then will have their rights upheld.

“After 21 years of this inhumane system, a government has finally taken a real first step towards ending Direct Provision. We broadly welcome the White Paper and its ambitious vision,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.

“The multi-strand accommodation model is mostly in line with the Day report, which is to be commended and contains practical, realisable steps to ensure this can happen. The own-door accommodation for families it proposes is critically important. But single people must have their human rights vindicated too and this needs to be addressed in the implementation plan.

“We recognise that there is a wider housing crisis, but that crisis requires political leadership across departments. Everyone has the right to adequate housing, and we hope that we do not see one marginalised group pitted against another in a false dichotomy.

“What is deeply concerning is that the government has committed to keeping people in Direct Provision centres for what is likely to be the entirety of the pandemic. While the 2022 date for beginning closures of centres may be realistic from a planning perspective, we need to see what the government intends to do to protect people who are vulnerable because of their state-mandated accommodation.

“We welcome the White Paper’s sketching out some of the implementation plan and timeline for this transformation. It will be critical that the detailed plan, and monitoring and oversight structures, are created and put in place promptly.

“An underpinning assumption for this new model is that people’s protection claims will be processed within six months. However, this was the case with the original Direct Provision model. It needs to happen this time. The backlog of cases also urgently needs to be dealt with.

“The interim recommendations of the Advisory Group on Direct Provision also need to be implemented. Until Direct Provision ends, thousands of people will remain within a system that the government has acknowledged is not fit for purpose. So, while 2024 is a realistic timeline for the creation of this ambitious alternative, the state must uphold their rights until that is achieved.”