Oireachtas report says direct provision should be scrapped

Report says people in system should be allowed to work and allowance increased

The direct provision system for asylum seekers is not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced, an Oireachtas committee has concluded. A report from the Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions has called for a series of changes to the existing regime, but ultimately wants it to be scrapped.

Direct provision was introduced 15 years ago for asylum seekers who get full- board accommodation and personal allowances of €19.10 an adult and €9.60 an child a week.

The committee’s report, to be published today, says people in direct provision should have the right to work. The restriction on working must be lifted as soon as possible to avoid potential long-term difficulties, it believes.

It calls for an increase in the weekly allowance, which has remained the same for 15 years, describing the €19.10 as insufficient and derisory. It also criticises the asylum application system as unnecessarily complicated and lengthy.


In his foreword, chairman of the committee and Sinn Féin spokesman on justice Pádraig Mac Lochalinn said this was a “canary in the mine” moment.

“This report to the Dáil and Seanad makes it clear to both Houses of the Oireachtas that the direct provision system is not fit for purpose.”

It was designed and resourced to be a short-term solution, he said. However, with one in five residents in direct provision for seven or more years, it was an indisputable fact that it was no longer a short-term solution. “This and this alone is more than sufficient to justify the statement that the system is not fit for purpose and any argument to the contrary is not credible,” he said.

There are 4,360 people in the system, one-third of them children. One resident has been in it for 11 years and a large number for five years or more.

Minister of State for Justice Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has promised an overhaul and is awaiting a report due this month.

The Oireachtas committee’s report says a section of Irish society is being neglected and discriminated against. It wants its findings to be a wake-up call to the Government, the Oireachtas, the Department of Justice and the related agencies. It also wants Freedom of Information legislation to be extended to cover direct provision centres.

Mr Mac Lochlainn said that, as a parent, he was “deeply disturbed” that a third of the residents were children. “How will they in the future regard our failure, right here right now, to stand up and say a wrong is being committed in the name of the people who elected us and we never said ‘stop’?”