CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Address by Minister Stanton on publication of the Irish Refugee Council Study: Transitioning: from Direct Provision to life in the community
20 July 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to have the opportunity to address you today. The Irish Refugee Council’s (IRC) study ‘Transitioning: from Direct Provision to life in the community is a window on the practical difficulties that can be encountered by individuals making momentous life changes.
Last year, the McMahon Working Group Report highlighted the length of time that people were spending in the asylum / protection process and, as a consequence, living in Direct Provision.
This IRC’s study provides my Department with another set of information to consider in our work going forward. Even though the report itself acknowledges that it is operating within a small sample size, nevertheless it brings to light the frustrations and emotions experienced by the people concerned.
Since the publication of the McMahon Report a lot of changes have been put in train. The key challenge in respect of Direct Provision is the length of time that people spend in the accommodation, particularly families. The primary objective arising from the McMahon Report was to tackle the existing caseload in the first instance and to overhaul the existing asylum processing system in the second.
This government has given the implementation of the International Protection Act the highest priority. A sound but efficient application process will obviate the knock-on issues that the McMahon report – and now this IRC study – has highlighted.
The information booklet referred to in this study “Your Guide to Independent Living” was published earlier this year. This booklet is a truly, excellent resource of practical information. The Citizens Information Board, supported by a range of other State agencies, provided information sessions within Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) centres to former asylum seekers who have permission to stay in the State. It can be downloaded from RIA’s website and has now been translated in 5 different languages – Urdu; Pashtu; Farsi; French and Arabic. These will soon be also available for download.
I plan to build on this initiative to develop a transitional programme for those leaving the Direct Provision system. That will enable them to have access to information and support when accessing key services.
The IRC report highlights difficulties experienced by former asylum seekers in accessing housing. Of course, we all know that this is an issue that is so much wider than one group. My colleagues, Ministers Coveney and Varadkar are actively engaged on this problem. Yesterday, Minister Coveney published ‘Rebuilding Ireland – An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ following the Government approval of this ambitious plan. The Action Plan provides an important framework within which planning can be undertaken on housing for refugees and those leaving the Direct Provision system.
This IRC study highlights for me the increasing need for State and civil society actors to work together to identify things that need to change – as well as managing the expectations of those who wish to make their new homes in Ireland.
The study reminds us that we need to continue to take action to promote integration. Integration needs to work for refugees, for those leaving the Direct Provision system but also for the communities within which they will settle. My plan is to use the Migrant Integration Strategy as the framework for action on integration.
Settling into a new community is a complex process. However, I firmly believe that the process of moving from Direct Provision and getting the chance to plant roots here in Ireland is also a journey of hope. Each of us can play our part in turning that feeling of hope into a positive future for former asylum seekers.