Asylum seeker child allowance to rise from €9.60 to €16.60 a week
Ó Ríordáin says increase is ‘first step’ in implementing taskforce recommendations
A file photograph of a protest in Dublin calling for an end to the direct provision system. Photograph: David Sleator.
The weekly allowance for children living in direct provision will almost double with immediate effect when the Government approves the increase tomorrow.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald will bring a joint memo to Cabinet seeking approval for a rise in the weekly rate from €9.60 to €16.60 for each child living in direct provision centres.
The increase will be the first since the controversial system was introduced 15 years ago.
It will partly implement the increases recommended by a taskforce on the direct provision system, chaired by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the Minister of State with responsibility in this area.
The taskforce recommended the weekly allowance for each child of an asylum seeker should be tripled from €9.60 to €29.80.
It also recommended the allowance for an adult asylum seeker in direct provision should be doubled from €19.87 top €38.74.
The allowances have remained unchanged since the early years of the last decade.
Mr Ó Ríordáin said yesterday he was very pleased with the increase and said it was a “first step” in implementing fully the recommendations of the taskforce.
“I am glad that after 15 years of a system we are finally getting focused on much-needed reform. These things do take time but I am confident they will be fully implemented.”
When he took office in the summer of 2014, Mr Ó Ríordáin said direct provision was in need of radical reform.
Asylum seekers who are in the system live in a variety of adapted accommodation, including former hotels, hostels, caravan parks and holiday centres.
There has been criticism of the standard of accommodation, the bans placed on work, the cramped common areas, and the inappropriateness of the centres for children.
“Living a life in direct provision is no life for a child. Given our own history of child incarceration and institutions, this was an obvious focus,” he said.
He said 60-80 people a month were leaving direct provision and moving towards independence, which was a good sign. He said 80 deportation orders had also been quashed.
The taskforce report was based on an earlier study by a working group chaired by former High Court judge Bryan McMahon.
In addition to recommending an increase in allowances, it had also concluded that those in direct provision for more than five years should be given leave to remain in Ireland. It also recommended communal catering be introduced to direct provision centres.
In 2012 the then special rapporteur on children Geoffrey Shannon referred to the risks facing children in direct provision, where children and families were sharing living space with strangers.
At the time there were more than 4,300 people living in direct provision centres, some of whom had been living in what was described as a “limbo” existence for more than a decade.