Adults in direct provision will soon have access to the labour market, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said.
He said residents had been given access to the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children, which was a very important step forward.
The Minister, who was speaking in the Seanad on Wednesday, said there had been a great deal of criticism of direct provision over the years.
While much of it was warranted, some of the criticism was not, he added.
“All states have to set and implement rules about people coming to the state,’’ he added. “Asylum seekers must apply for international protection status under international law on defined grounds.’’
Mr Flanagan said the system was a guarantee that every person who walked into the international protection office would have a bed, food, a shower, medical care, information and access to a wide range of services.
“I have yet to hear a credible alternative being proposed in almost two decades to the current system,’’ he added.
“All that being said, I recognise that the way this system operated for many years was wholly unsatisfactory.’’
He said the system was beset by problems as the State sought to grapple with a large volume of asylum applications, something Ireland was not used to.
Last May, a Burmese man who spent eight years in direct provision before getting refugee status unanimously won his Supreme Court appeal over laws preventing him working here before his status was decided.
The seven judge court unanimously agreed the absolute ban was “in principle” unconstitutional but has adjourned making any formal orders for six months to allow the legislature consider how to address the situation.