A Cork migrant and refugee rights organisation has welcomed the latest report on how Ireland processes asylum seeking applications which has recommended ending the controversial Direct Provision system.
An Advisory Group, led by former Secretary General of the European Commission Dr Catherine Day, has made a number of recommendations, including a once-off grant to people who have lived in the current system for over two years and increasing access to the labour market.
The report recommends introducing a new system with a three stage process which would include an initial reception stage, with people accommodated in state-owned centres for up to three months before moving into own door accommodation at stage two.
Stage three is for people who receive international protection or a permission to remain in the country who would, under the new system, continue to benefit from these supports for up to 18 months after their permission is granted.
Cork city-based Nasc who work with migrants and refugees to advocate and lead for change within the country’s immigration and protections systems to ensure fairness, access to justice and and the protection of human rights.
Speaking to The Echo, Fiona Hurley, said that Nasc “would strongly push” for the system which should be in place by 2023.
“We’re really supportive of the report and we were on the advisory group so we were part of the group that helped devise the report so we feel it both should happen and needs to happen.
“We don’t want to be in a position in five or 10 year’s time where we’re looking at Direct Provision still existing,” she said.
Ms Hurley said that the report, which is “the first report of its kind where the terms of reference actually allowed an independent group to look at a possible alternative”, lays out the clearest pathway to date.
She said that it was “striking” that existing civil servants, formal civil servants and Dr Catherine Day herself were “able to see that Direct Provision is so clearly dysfunctional and not fit for purpose”.
The new system proposed will save the State almost €36m but Ms Hurley said there was also the “human cost”.
“By having people live in the community, you massively improve integration prospects and broadens the right to work and the right to education which are all things that will massively improve Irish society.
“Look at Cork and some of the really cool businesses that have set up over the last year or two, a lot of them are from migrants or refugees including the Syrian refugee family who set up their restaurant in the middle of a pandemic. It's a real vote of confidence in Cork,” she said.