Ireland’s reception system for asylum seekers is known as Direct Provision. Under the Direct Provision system, people are accommodated across the country in communal institutional centres or former hotel style settings. The vast majority of the centres are managed on a for-profit basis by private contractors.
Direct Provision is intended to provide for the basic needs of people who are awaiting decisions on their applications for international protection. The system was designed as a short-term measure in the year 2000, but many applicants experience lengthy stays, which is associated with declining physical and mental health, self-esteem and skills.
Doras has been advocating for change to the Direct Provision system since our establishment in the year 2000. Doras believe that the current institutional system creates barriers to integration, contributes to poor mental and physical health and leads to social exclusion.
Today, there are more than 7,000 people living in Direct Provision centres across Ireland. Doras continue to advocate for the establishment of an alternative reception system that is based on human rights principles and the best interests of the child.
- Length of time: The average length of stay in Direct Provision is 24 months, with some residents having spent up to 10 or 12 years living in these conditions.
- Profit: The majority of Direct Provision centres are managed by private contractors on a for-profit basis, on behalf of the State.
- Employment: Until February 2018, asylum seekers had no right to work in Ireland – unlike most EU member states. Restrictions still apply and the majority of people who live in Direct Provision centres have no right to access employment.
- Education: Limited access to further & higher education.
- Isolated locations: Some centres are located in rural areas, with limited transport options and support services.
- Privacy & overcrowded living conditions: Residents live in shared accommodation, with single adults sharing rooms with up to eight people of different backgrounds and nationalities.
- Food: Three meals are provided at set times each day; limited cooking facilities are available in a small number of centres. Complaints have been made regarding lack of variety and lack of nutritional options in the centres.
- Standards & monitoring: The living conditions vary widely from centre to centre. There is little trust in the RIA complaints procedure & limited publicly accessible information on complaints or transfer decisions. The existing inspection system focusses on health & safety issues and does not consider the social or emotional needs of residents.
- Health: Physical and mental health issues among residents are very common. Asylum seekers are 5 times more likely to experience mental health issues and psychiatric conditions.
- Children: c.30% of Direct Provision residents are children. Children have been born and raised living in these conditions, the long-term developmental effects of which are still unknown.
There are more than 7,000 people living in Direct Provision centres across Ireland. In the Limerick region, there are approximately 300 people living in three Direct Provision centres.
To view monthly and annual statistics on Direct Provision, please visit the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS, formerly known as the Reception and Integration Agency/RIA) website:
NEW GOVERNMENT TO END DIRECT PROVISION – 2020
In June 2020, Ireland’s coalition Government was announced, comprised of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. The new Government is committed to ending Direct Provision and replacing it with a n alternative reception system. As part of this commitment, the Government will review the report produced by the “Day Group”, due in September 2020, and produce a White Paper for the next steps with a view to establishing an alternative reception system for people seeking international protection in Ireland.
View/ download Programme for Government here: https://static.rasset.ie/documents/news/2020/06/programmeforgovernment-june2020-final.pdf
EXPERT GROUP ON DIRECT PROVISION – 2020
In December 2019, the Government announced the establishment of the Expert Group on Direct Provision, chaired by Catherine Day and commonly referred to as the “Day Group”. This expert group was established following the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee. The “Day Group will publish a report of recommendations in September 2020 for consideration by Government.
JOINT OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE – DIRECT PROVISION & INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION – 2019
In 2019, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality issued a public call for submissions on the Direct Provision and international protection system, including input on alternatives to Direct Provision. Following the public consultation, the Joint Committee produced a report with a series of recommendations including the recommendation to establish an expert group to present details of an alternative reception system to replace the Direct Provision system.
View/ download the report here: Oireachtas report on direct provision and the International Protection application process.
MOUNT TRENCHARD – CASE STUDY – 2019
Doras has worked with residents of Mount Trenchard, a Direct Provision centre located outside Foynes in Co. Limerick, since it opened in 2005. Doras has always maintained that this centre was particularly concerning and illustrated many of the failures of the Direct Provision system, such as overcrowding, isolated location, limited supports and lack of oversight. After many years of advocacy work, Doras publicly called for the closure of Mount Trenchard in 2014.
In 2018, Doras was funded by the Community Foundation of Ireland to conduct research into the experiences of people living in Mount Trenchard. The research report was published in December 2019 and outlined a number of serious issues raised by residents and service providers. The report focuses on the following themes:
- Safety and well-being;
- Isolated location;
- Physical living conditions;
- Operational and staff issues.
The report concludes with a series of short-term recommendations and calls for the closure of Mount Trenchard as a Direct Provision centre.
Following the publication of the report, the Department of Justice and Equality announced the closure of Mount Trenchard in January 2020. View/Download report here: http://doras.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Report.-Experiences-of-Living-in-Direct-Provision.-Mount-Trenchard-3.pdf
NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR ACCOMMODATION – 2019
A Supreme Court judgement on a case taken in 2017 found Ireland’s complete ban on employment for asylum seeker’s to be unconstitutional (read more here). In response to this judgement, Ireland transposed the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive, in July 2018, which sets out minimum standards of reception conditions for asylum applicants. In line with the EU Directive, Ireland now grants access to the labour market and vocational training to eligible applicants.
In August 2018, the Department of Justice and Equality published the Draft National Standards for Direct Provision Centres for public consultation. The National Standards were finalised in 2019 as part of the Government’s efforts to comply with the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive. The National Standards will become mandatory in January 2021.
View/ Download the National Standards for Accommodation Offered to People in the Protection Process: http://doras.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/National-Standards-for-Accommodation-2019.pdf
MCMAHON REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS – 2015
In June 2015, following extensive advocacy efforts, the Government published the McMahon report, which comprised 173 recommendations for reform of the protection process including Direct Provision and supports to asylum seekers. Visit the Department of Justice website for information and progress reports on the Government’s monitoring and implementation of the McMahon report recommendations from 2015 to 2017.
In December 2017, Nasc published a working paper that audit’s the Government’s implementation of the McMahon report, which provides further detail and oversight of the implementation process.
END DIRECT PROVISION LIMERICK
Doras established a community campaign group ‘End Direct Provision Limerick’, in September 2014, which comprised of residents of four Direct Provision centres and concerned individuals, activists and academics in the Limerick region with an interest in the issue. The group continue to maintain an active online presence via social media.
CLEAR THE ASYLUM BACKLOG
Doras and the Irish Refugee Council launched a proposal to clear the asylum backlog in December 2014. The proposal calls on the Minister for Justice to grant permission to live in Ireland to various categories of people who have been trapped in Direct Provision as a result of the failed asylum system in Ireland.
Doras carried out a public awareness campaign entitled Invisible Children, in conjunction with the Irish Refugee Council, to highlight the impact on children of growing up in asylum seekers accommodation. The installation replicates a typical family room in Direct Provision.