Direct provision centres like ‘open prisons’, says Thomas Pringle

Minister rejects abolition of system but pledges to reduce time people spend in it

Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle: said that in Ireland 4,300 asylum seekers were in 34 direct provision centres, living in “inhumane conditions not fit for the 21st century”. Photograph: Frank Miller.

Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle: said that in Ireland 4,300 asylum seekers were in 34 direct provision centres, living in “inhumane conditions not fit for the 21st century”. Photograph: Frank Miller.

 

Renewed calls have been made for the Government to abolish the system of direct provision for asylum seekers.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle, introducing the Private Member’s motion in the Dáil last night, said the system, where bed and board were provided in accommodation centres run by contractors “must end”.

The Donegal TD said that worldwide the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people had exceeded 50 million for the first time in the post-world war era.

In Ireland 4,300 asylum seekers were in 34 direct provision centres, living in “inhumane conditions not fit for the 21st century”.

This system must end, Mr Pringle said, adding that some people had been there for more than 10 years. The centres were effectively operating as open prisons. He was particularly concerned about the protection of children in these centres, “many of whom were born into the system and know no better life”.

He noted the lack of any real legal basis for a system of direct provision, “the reports of poor food quality, infestations, cramped living conditions, individuals institutionalised in direct provision for several years. Reports of prostitution and safety issues for children are nothing new for anyone who has worked in this area.”

One-stop shops

Rejecting the motion to abolish the system, Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said however that he refused to stand over the system in its present form. “We need to ensure that the length of time children spend in the system should not be such that their only experience of life was of direct provision.”

He insisted the Government would address the direct provision system and wider protection issues and would legislate to reduce the time an applicant spends in the system.