July 17th

Minister Flanagan and MoS Stanton also publish the Third and Final Progress Report on the implementation of the Justice McMahon Report recommendations on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision

 

Cabinet this week approved a proposal from the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, to establish an interdepartmental Taskforce to address the implications of the Supreme Court judgement in N.V.H. v. Minister for Justice and Equality.

The Court held on May 30th last that an absolute prohibition on the right to work for  international protection applicants is contrary to the right to seek employment under the Constitution. The Court’s finding is based on  our international protection system having no temporal limits as to when the application process will be concluded.

Additionally, today July 17th, Minister Flanagan and Minister Stanton announced further progress in implementing the recommendations of the Justice McMahon Report and published the third and final progress report.

Speaking in relation to the new Taskforce to address the Supreme Court decision, Minister Flanagan said:

“Since the Court’s decision my Department has been analyzing and considering this important and complex judgment.  It is clear there are implications for a number of Government Departments and services.

“The Judgement requires a “whole-of-Government” approach. To facilitate this, Cabinet has approved my proposal to establish an inter-Departmental Taskforce to examine the implications and to consider appropriate solutions as quickly as possible. I will report back to Cabinet in due course when the Taskforce has completed its work.

“The Court recognises that there are complex matters in relation to this Judgement and that the State has a right to determine not just who can enter the State but also to regulate what their rights are while within the State, particularly as regards employment.   Accordingly, the Court has adjourned consideration of its Order for six months to enable the State to consider its response.”

Minister Flanagan, along with Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, today announced further progress in implementing the recommendations of the Justice McMahon Report.

Minister Flanagan stated:
“Since the Justice McMahon Group examined the issue of length of stay, there has been a radical improvement in the length of time persons remain in the Direct Provision system.  Figures now show that 72% have been there for three years or less since the date of their application; compared to 36% who were there for 3 years or less when the data was compiled for the Working Group in 2015.  In other words, there has been a complete reversal in the profile of the length of stay since the Working Group examined the matter. These improvements are as a result of concerted efforts to deal with cases who are 5 or more years in the system.  

“Our third and final analysis of the implementation by Government Departments and Agencies shows that by June this year, 133 recommendations have been reported as fully implemented and a further 36 are in progress or partially implemented. This represents 98% full or partial implementation.

Minister Flanagan noted that “through the implementation of the wide range of measures, including dealing with those cases longest in the system, the protection system and that of Direct Provision has been fundamentally improved over the past two years and further improvements will continue to the made”.  

 The Minister further highlighted the changed protection environment in which these reforms have taken place. “The implementation of these important recommendations has been a key component of our programme of reforms in the international protection area. The commencement of the International Protection Act, 2015, last December has fundamentally reformed our protection system with the introduction of a single application procedure. This was a key recommendation of the Working Group”. 

Under the single procedure, an applicant makes one application, and has all grounds for seeking international protection and to be permitted to remain in the State, examined and determined in one process. This will, over time, positively address the length of time which applicants spend in the process and consequently in the Direct Provision system. 

In addition to the changes to the protection system, Minister Stanton acknowledged the important  improvements, which have been made to the living conditions, and the range of supports provided to residences in Direct Provision.  

Minister Stanton stated:

“Today’s report highlights the very positive actions being taken across a number of Government Departments to improve the daily lives and the living conditions of applicants and their families within the Direct Provision system. For example, the introduction of the foodhall in Mosney and cooking facilities in centres such as Kinsale Road, Clonakilty and Millstreet, in Co Cork and St. Patrick’s in Monaghan enables individual families to cook for themselves.  

“In this reporting period, in conjunction with the ongoing implementation of improvements to accommodation and self-catering facilities, residents  can now access the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children and there was also an increase recently to the Direct Provision Allowance for both adults and children, including those arriving to Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

“I am committed to ensuring that this important work will continue in line with our commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to reform the Direct Provision system, particularly in relation to families.

“The ongoing implementation of these reforming measures, alongside the biggest change to our protection process within the last two decades,  has created the conditions whereby applicants will continue to be treated with humanity and respect whilst also ensuring that we have more efficient procedures and safeguards in place within our protection system.”  

The progress will be made at the following link: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/3rd_WG_Progress_Report_-_July_2017.pdf/Files/3rd_WG_Progress_Report_-_July_2017.pdf

Notes for Editors on the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Justice McMahon Report Recommendations:

·    The Report of the Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers contains 173 recommendations, many of which have implications for a number of Government Departments and services.  The Report was published in June 2015. 

·    The first progress report published last June on the Department’s website showed that 91 of the recommendations were implemented, with a further 49 recommendations partially implemented or in progress.  This represented significant progress on some 80% of the Working Group’s recommendations. 

·    The second progress report was published in February 2017, showed that 92% of the recommendations had been implemented (122 recommendations), partially implemented or were in progress (37 recommendations).  

·    Today’s third and final progress report shows that 98% of the recommendations have been implemented (133 recommendations), partially implemented or are in progress (36 recommendations). 

·    The International Protection Act, 2015 was fully commenced on 31st December.  Under the single procedure, an applicant will make one application, and will have all grounds for seeking international protection and to be permitted to remain in the State examined and determined in one process. The single procedure has replaced the multi-layered and sequential protection application system under the Refugee Act, 1996, which has been repealed. 

·    On 30th May 2017, the Supreme Court Judgment of O’Donnell J. was delivered in N.V.H v The Minister for Justice and Equality. The Judgement found that in an international protection system which has no temporal limits as to when the application process will be concluded, an absolute prohibition on the right to work for applicants, is contrary to rights under Article 40.1 of the Constitution. The Court recognises that this is a matter for the Executive and Legislature to consider and accordingly has adjourned consideration of the Order the Court should make for a period of six months. It is expected that the State will make submissions to the Court in relation to the format of the Order the Court is to make at the appropriate time.