Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore has called for all accommodation used under the State’s Direct Provision system to be inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) following a damning report by the Ombudsman for Children.
Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on children, said:
“This is the first time that the Ombudsman’s office has laid down a special report to the Houses of Oireachtas since it was established 20 years ago, which is an indication of the gravity of the situation.
“In his report, Ombudsman Niall Muldoon sets out a number of concerns about the safety and welfare of children living in International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS). These include the continued use of temporary accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs; lack of inspections and monitoring of centres; and not enough vulnerability assessments of children.
“It is now approaching three years since the Government published a White Paper setting out its intention to phase out Direct Provision by 2024. Due to the unforeseen challenges of accommodating refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, it was inevitable that there would be some slippage in meeting this target.
“However, the Ombudsman raised similar concerns about children living in Direct Provision back in 2021 so his frustration at the Government’s lack of progress on the issue is completely understandable.
“The State has a responsibility to ensure the safety, wellbeing and dignity of these extremely vulnerable children. Given the seriousness of the concerns raised in Dr Muldoon’s special report, it is vital that all accommodation used under the Direct Provision system is inspected by HIQA as a matter of urgency.”
October 19, 2023