Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality, Youth and Integration, John Brady TD, and spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, have reiterated Sinn Féin’s long-standing call for an end to Direct Provision following the release of a damning report by the Ombudsman for Children.
Teachta Brady said:
“The absolute failure by the government to put in place medium to long term strategies to implement its own recommendations to end Direct Provision has failed children in international protection.
“Instead, what is in place is a crisis driven response that has led to a worsening of conditions for children in state-provided accommodation.
“While I accept that IPAS, and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth (CEDIY), have been faced with very difficult circumstances, following the logistical challenges thrown up by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, responsibility for the current situation lies firmly at the door of the whole of government.
“Direct Provision was introduced in 2000, for six months. Now, in October 2023, the state is paying out over €42 million a month for private accommodation for refugees in commercial hotels and converted premises. Which is close to half a billion euro a year.
“This is a damning indictment of the failure of successive governments to put in place medium and long-term plans to address the situation.
“Children in these emergency accommodation centres are not protected by safeguards that are supposed to be in place in designated accommodation centres. There is a lack of oversight, not all staff have been fully trained, or vetted in respect of child protection.
“It is imperative that HIQA be provided with a commencement order from the minister that will allow the body to begin carrying out inspections.
“A memo was supposed to go to cabinet last month that would outline a revised timeline for the abolition of Direct Provision. We are still awaiting this development.
“We are calling for the government to implement its own recommendations to end Direct Provision.”
Teachta Funchion said:
“Dr Muldoon’s special report is extremely serious and comes on the back of his exhaustive investigation into direct provision in 2021. It is abundantly clear the government are unable to adequately meet the needs of vulnerable children in the direct provision system. This must change.
“The state is simply lurching from one crisis to another, making the situation for children considerably worse. I echo Dr Muldoon’s call for a move away from emergency responses for children seeking protection; it is imperative we see a plan to ensure any child seeking refuge in Ireland is provided with safe accommodation, and access to healthcare and education.”