Nasc and the Irish Refugee Council welcome the publication of the Day Advisory Group Report on Direct Provision
Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre and the Irish Refugee Council welcome the publication of the Report of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support, including Accommodation, to Persons in the International Protection Process.
The Advisory Group has made recommendations for a new permanent reception system to end direct provision[i]. The recommendations of the report are far-reaching and ambitious and would radically transform the lived experiences of those seeking international protection in Ireland. The report calls for a new system to be fully in place by mid-2023. We are now calling on the government to begin the process of implementing these recommendations without further delay.
Nasc, together with the Irish Refugee Council and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) were members of the Advisory Group. The work of the Advisory Group has been guided throughout by the need “to promote integration of those seeking international protection into local communities from the earliest stage in the process (ie the reception phase).”
Nasc would like to thank Dr Catherine Day for her tireless work in chairing this Advisory Group. We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the international protection applicants and direct provision residents who helped to shape and inform the report recommendations. We believe that the recommendations contained in this report reflect their urgent priorities for change, namely the length of time spent in the international protection process and an end to direct provision itself.
End Direct Provision
Nasc CEO, Fiona Finn:
“The significance of this report cannot be understated. Twenty years after the introduction of direct provision, a government-commissioned independent report has called for an end to direct provision and charted a pathway for the State to provide a protection and reception system for international protection applicants with the needs of applicants at its heart.
We unequivocally welcome the recommendation to end “the congregated and segregated accommodation of applicants for international protection”. The Advisory Group proposes that international protection applicants instead be provided with own door accommodation in the community.
This report confirms that direct provision carries a significant financial as well as human cost with the reporting finding that it is both ‘inadequate and very expensive’. The proposed system has the potential to save tens of millions per year. Estimates[ii] provided to the group show that direct provision cost the State €35.9 million more in 2019 than our alternative model would have.”
Irish Refugee Council CEO, Nick Henderson:
“We strongly welcome this report. Many of the recommendations, if implemented, have the power to be genuinely transformative. We look forward to exploring the housing recommendations in greater detail via input in to the proposed Government White Paper, especially through research we are currently working on. More generally the focus now shifts to Government. Notably the Advisory Group report identifies recommendations that can be implemented now and that have the power to immediately improve the situation of people seeking protection in Ireland. We would also like to thank Catherine Day who chaired the group and the other members of the group for their time and input.”
Processing times for applications
The report recommends the introduction of binding targets for different stages in the process. These include a six-month deadline for the International Protection Office to make a first instance decision and a six-month deadline for the International Protection Appeals Tribunal to make a decision on an appeal. This will be supported by an increase in resources for the Legal Aid Board ensuring protection applicants have access legal advice and support from the outset and throughout the process.
Nasc CEO Fiona Finn:
“Reducing the length of time that people spend in the international protection process has always been a key priority for Nasc. It is inherently unfair for people to spend years living lives in limbo waiting for a decision on their status determination. The recommendations to implement legally binding deadlines for all new applications from 2023 and to introduce a dedicated taskforce to clear the existing backlog of cases by 2022[iii] are essential to the success of the protection system.
The recommendation to introduce a ‘tolerated’ status[iv] for people on long-term deportation orders that cannot be effected will bring Ireland in line with the norms in other EU Member States which recognise that a person who cannot be immediately returned should be given a temporary legal status.”
Impact on the daily lives of international protection applicants
“The recommendations of this report reach beyond accommodation and the legal process and will have an enormous impact on the daily lives of applicants for international protection. They include recommendations to immediately address the bar to access driving licences and increasing access to the labour market by making labour market access permission available within 3 months of lodging an application for protection. It also recognises the position of those who were excluded from the right to work when the Regulations were passed in 2018 by recommending that the right to work should immediately be made available to anyone who has already been longer than 3 months in the protection process.”
The report recommends a comprehensive system of oversight to ensure that the recommendations are implemented. It acknowledges that the promise of change and improvement in the McMahon Report was not fully delivered and stresses the need for strong political oversight in the form of a cabinet committee to meet regularly and report to government every six months, the creation of an independent body to monitor and evaluate progress and finally an extension of the remit of the Ombudsman to investigate complaints about the processes leading up to decisions on international protection applications.
“There is wide acknowledgment that our international protection system is not viable. In this report, we now have a clear roadmap for transformational change. Many of these recommendations will require institutional change and the overhaul of outdated and inefficient systems and this will require political will and commitment to these changes. The report very clearly sets out timelines, the Departments responsible for delivering actions and the oversight mechanisms needed to ensure that these changes occur.
Since 2015 we have been through the McMahon Report process and the National Standards. The Day Report should be the final report of its kind. The time to act is now – international protection applicants have already been waiting twenty years too long.”
Policy and Communications Manager | Nasc, Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre
Ph: 087 104 3284
Chief Executive Officer |Irish Refugee Council
Note for editors:
Nasc is the Irish word for ‘link’. Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre is a non-Governmental organisation based in Cork City. Nasc works with migrants and refugees to advocate and lead for change within Ireland’s immigration and protection systems, to ensure fairness, access to justice and the protection of human rights. Our goal is to realise the rights of all migrants and refugees within Irish society.
[i] The report recommends a new permanent system consisting of 3 stages:
Stage 1: An initial reception stage – accommodation should be provided in State-owned centres for up to 3 months. Onsite services should be available to assist applicants to access necessary services and entitlements.
Stage 2: After months in the reception centre applicants should be helped to move to own-door accommodation. A HAP-equivalent payment would be made available as well as a weekly allowance equivalent to the range of income supports made available to Irish citizens.
Stage 3: If applicants receive international protection or a permission to remain in Ireland, they should continue to benefit from support measures for up to 18 months after the permission is obtained.
[ii] The recommendations made by the Advisory Group were costed by the Department of Justice Research and Data Analytics Unit. In 2019, the current system cost the State in the region of €178.5 million. It is estimated that is the new system had applied in 2019 it would have cost in the region of €142.6 million – representing a saving of €35.9 million. (Further details on costings available in Chapter 8 of the Report)
[iii] The Advisory Group recommends the establishment of a one-off, simplified, case-processing approach applying to all applicants who will have been two years or more in the system by the end of 2020. Those in this case processing approach should be given leave to remain for a period of 5 years and the option to continue with their protection application or withdraw it.
[iv] In a 2016 report the European Migration Network found that Ireland is in a “small minority of EU Member States who do not issue a separate decision relating to the fact that a person cannot be immediately returned.” European Migration Network (2016). The return of rejected asylum seekers: Challenges and good practices, Brussels: European Migration Network