Minister Flanagan, along with Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, today (July 17th, 2017) 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.”