– Government needs to address impacts of ‘draconian, callous’ system

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns says that families living in direct provision will be left in limbo for years before the system is abolished.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Holly said:

“Over the past 20 years, 60,000 people have spent time in direct provision. Over €1 billion has been given to private companies to run this system.

“We all welcome the Minister’s plans to end the system. However, the reality is that we are still looking at families being trapped in direct provision for years. While these people remain in limbo, there are a number of issues the Government needs to address.

“For example, residents of congregated settings are at greater risk of Covid-19, as we saw with clusters in nursing homes and direct provision centres. Operators of these centres are contracted on a per person basis, not physical space, which incentivises the creation of cramped conditions.

“Another issue is the right to education. We all know that free education in Ireland is a myth and that many families cannot afford it. This reality is felt severely by asylum seekers when it comes to access to schoolbooks and uniforms. We have a whole cohort of children who are only able to exercise their right to education because of the kindness of communities and school staff.

“Inequality of access to further and higher education is pervasive in Ireland and this extends to people in direct provision who cannot afford to go to college.

“Other barriers to asylum seekers living dignified lives include the ban on them obtaining a driver’s licence. This prevents them from taking up employment opportunities, particularly in rural areas where a car is essential.

“We know the default position for the State is to provide the bare minimum. This is the type of mindset that creates barriers to deter people. It is part of an antiquated and worrying understanding of the realities of migration and asylum.

“The Government needs to address the impacts of this draconian, callous system while direct provision is being dismantled.”

April 22, 2021

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