Sinn Féin spokesperson on Law Reform, Equality and Integration, Pa Daly TD, has given a cautious welcome to the government’s White Paper on Direct Provision and called for greater ambition in replacing the system.
Speaking today, Teachta Daly said:
“Direct Provision is a shameful and cruel system which has caused serious harm to many asylum seekers and wider communities. It is long overdue that the system is ended and replaced with a modern, humane system which is fit-for-purpose.
“Having reviewed the White Paper, it contains many positive steps which I welcome. This includes the alignment of welfare rates with existing benefits, the provision of driving licenses and an approach that should majorly reduce reliance on private operators.
“It is welcome that it emphasises the importance of care and supports and, crucially, that it suggests a non-adversarial approach to applicants.
“However, the White Paper is disappointingly lacking in ambition in a number of key areas.
“Many applicants will be able to enter the labour market and I believe it would be more suitable for them to be able to do so after 3 months rather than 6 months recommended in the White Paper.
“Furthermore, it is disappointing that the recommendation to grant 5 years Leave to Remain for people within the system more than 2 years is only ‘under consideration’, which is not a robust enough commitment. Many asylum seekers working in healthcare and the food industry are currently very anxious about facing deportation and stronger commitments on this issue would be important.
“I am concerned that the length of time people will remain in the reception centres will be longer than 4 months if there isn’t a front loading of the capital investment in own door accommodation and an accelerated delivery of these.
“I am also concerned about the White Paper’s failure to address the growing problem of those with leave to remain being trapped in DP. Greater supports are required to move those families in PRS/HAP and ensure they are not subjected to entirely unnecessary and unfair delays.
“I would like to pay tribute to the residents and activists who have campaigned to bring the system to an end. Their determination and advocacy has been remarkable and brought us to this point where real change is achievable.
“A successful implementation of the report in the majority of its aspects would be positive and Sinn Féin remains committed to working constructively to do so. We will continue to push the government to be more ambitious on a number of key areas to ensure that the scale of change needed is achieved.”