THE HEAD OF a working group into the refugee process in Ireland has called for all those who have been seeking asylum here for more than five years to be granted “some kind of special amnesty” to enable them to leave Direct Provision.
Former High Court judge Bryan McMahon made the suggestion at the launch today of an analysis of how well that working group’s 173 recommendations regarding Ireland’s asylum system have been implemented.
McMahon said such a move would be in the spirit of the “ideals of those who signed the proclamation in 1916″.
“It might be a bold innovation, but sometimes you have to do the bold thing, the courageous thing,” he said.
There are in the region of 3,500 such asylum-seekers who have been living in Direct Provision here for greater than five years.
McMahon said that having presided over Ireland’s latest citizenship ceremony yesterday, he has now been present for the induction of 98,000 new citizens into Ireland.
“We are a very welcoming people, that much is clear. So the contrast between these not-unrelated situations is stark. Anyone who has been to the centres and seen the human side of this can attest,” he said.
The realities of Direct Provision in Ireland were laid bare at the publication this morning of an analysis of how the Working Group’s 173 recommendations from June last year have been implemented.
Some of the many points noted in the analysis are:
- No allowance has been made for asylum-seekers to be allowed to access the work force after nine months as recommended
- A proposal to restore the value of the adult weekly directly provision allowance, the only welfare payment not to be increased since it was introduced in 2000, was overlooked has been overlooked (it remains €19.10 weekly)
- The living conditions of those living in Direct Provision (almost 5,000 people, one quarter of whom are children) have not improved “in any meaningful way”
- The average processing time for first instance refugee applications has doubled from 15 to 30 weeks
- The average processing time for refugee appeals has increased from 49 to 70 weeks
- It had been hoped to reduce the average time for processing an asylum application to 12 months. In fact that average has increased to two years from 15 months.
- The asylum process has been reduced from three strands to one as recommended. However this move is expected to “exacerbate delays” in the near term
- There has been some good news – 1,384 people who had been in the system for more than five years had their situation resolved last year, compared to just 700 in 2014. This is seen as a de facto implementation of the recommendation that anyone in the system for more than five years should be granted a protection status or leave to remain within six months