'Far better' system for asylum seekers possible


A FAR better service for asylum-seekers can be delivered in a cheaper and more co-ordinated way than the present system of direct provision, according to Fine Gael’s spokesman on immigration.

Denis Naughten was speaking following the launch of a report by the legal rights organisation Flac on direct provision, whereby asylum-seekers are accommodated in hostel-type centres on a full-board basis. He said the report presented an opportunity to review the policy.

Referring to one of the findings of the report, he said: “No wonder people end up in the psychiatric services after five, six or seven years in direct provision. Applications should be dealt with in a prompt way, and a lot of the associated problems would be solved.”

He told The Irish Times that resources should be put into clearing the backlog of applications for leave to remain, as this separate stage had been done away with under the new Immigration Act, and there was now an integrated system for dealing with all the grounds for allowing people to seek protection in Ireland.

The Labour Party’s spokesman on justice, Pat Rabbitte, also criticised the time taken to process applications for asylum. “It is unacceptable that an estimated 2,000 people are three years or more in direct provision.”

Vukosen Nedeljkovic, a refugee from Belgrade, Serbia, who spent almost three years in direct provision in Ballyhaunis, said it was “like living in a ghetto”.