Brother Kevin lobbies Minister on Direct Provision

The Minister listens to the concerns of the community group representatives.
Br Kevin chats with the Minister during his visit.
A roundtable discussion on the improvements needed to the direct provision system.

Date: 17 Oct 2014

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Brother Kevin Mascarenhas, the Director of our Integration and Support Unit for immigrants in Waterford, was among a group that met with Minister Aodhán Ríordáin at Mount Sion this week to advocate on behalf of people living in direct provision centres.

Mr O Ríordáin is the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality. He has special responsibility for Equality, New Communities and Culture.

The meeting with the minister was attended by representatives of over 50 community groups. Grievances about direct provision were outlined with the minister promising to raise the matter in the Dáil. He also encouraged the community groups to send a submission to the special working group on the issue.

The working group, chaired by Mr Justice Bryan McMahon, will examine the improvements to be made to the State’s existing direct provision system.

The concerns voiced at the meeting included:

  • Young children of asylum seekers are allowed to go to school, but once they finish secondary school they cannot progress further as they cannot get a college grant.
  • Asylum seekers are not allowed education or employment. Many asylum seekers have come from their countries with great skills but they have to sit in the direct provision centre doing nothing all day. This leads to mental problems.
  • About 5,000 people are living in direct provision, over one third of whom are children. These children spend a significant proportion of their childhood in direct provision accommodation.
  • As a result of enforced poverty, children in direct provision are often isolated from other young people their age and socially excluded from their field trips and community activities. Children are often parented by several adults in accommodation centres due to overcrowding and lack of privacy. Children in direct provision often do not have access to playspace, homework space or access to toys and playgrounds.
  • Residents do have access to an independent complaints mechanism.
  • The health needs of residents are not safeguarded.
  • Lack of suitable accommodation for particularly vulnerable groups, such as families with children, torture survivors and trafficked victims etc.
  • Lack of training for staff and residents in direct provision and residents in direct provision, including training in handling conflict and cultural diversity
  • The current system is very expensive and is a burden on the tax payer.