The Department of Justice-appointed working group on direct provision has been accused by a group working with asylum seekers of failing to take into account the views of those in direct provision centres following the publication of its latest progress report.
According to Anti-Deportation Ireland, the most recent progress report from the group revealed that just five residents of Direct Provision centres were given a chance to give oral testimony to the group.
"The Depart of Justice working group on direct provision has again shown that it has no intention of letting residents of direct provision have a true voice in matters that will affect them," said Joe Moore of Anti-Deportation Ireland.
According to the most recent progress report from the working group, chaired by retired High Court judge Mr Justice Bryan McMahon, it has received a total of 112 submissions, including 85 from adults and 29 from children, since it was established last October.
Members of the working group have also visited accommodation centres in Kerry, Cork, Laois, Limerick/Clare, Mosney and Waterford and have held consultations with asylum seekers in those regions while further visits are planned for Westmeath, Monaghan, Galway and Dublin.
According to the working group’s progress report, both the visits and the consultation sessions have been extremely informative while the working group also paid tribute to local support groups for their help in encouraging asylum seekers to meet them.
“A consultation session with victims of trafficking/sexual violence has also been held and further sessions are planned with victims of torture and LGBT applicants. The assistance of local support groups in organising the sessions and encouraging applicants to attend has been invaluable.
“A representative from each of the consultation sessions in Kerry, Cork, Limerick/Clare, Mosney and Waterford made oral submissions at the meeting eloquently describing their experiences of the protection system and the human costs of waiting indefinitely for a final decision on their cases.”
However, Anti-Deportation Ireland has criticised both the composition of the working group and the fact that an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions is being allowed to submit a report after the expiry of a January deadline on submissions.
“This undemocratic working group, composed in the main of Government officials and officials from various NGOs, has shown once again that it has no intention of taking into account the views of those in direct provision,” said Mr Moore.
“The very people who will be affected by the recommendations that this group produces were not allowed to have even one representative sitting on the group and now we learn that only a fraction of the direct provision centres in the country have been ‘invited’ to address the group.”
“Asylum seekers made their voices heard last summer with a series of direct actions against the owners of centres and against the Department of Justice. They did not call for ‘improvements’ to direct provision, they called for the immediate closure of all 34 centres and an end to deportations,” he said.