Submission to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth regarding the Statement of Strategy 2021 – 2023

Ireland Says Welcome is a membership group sharing news, information and refugee solidarity initiatives in Ireland and across Europe. Our vision is of a welcoming, inclusive and participatory Ireland for those escaping war, persecution and poverty.

6th of November 2020

Dear Sir/Madam

This submission is in response to the consultation by the Department, for its Statement of Strategy 2021-2023.

As the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) now falls under your Department’s remit, we would like to see your Statement of Strategy reflect that. Most importantly, ending Direct Provision and implementing the full recommendations of the Day Report must be a strategic objective.

Recommendations in connection to the Catherine Day Advisory Report.

We would like to propose that the following recommendations of the Report of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process (September 2020) should be completed by mid-2023:

  • Access to own-door accommodation for international protection applicants within three months of arrival and an end to institutionalised and congregated living. This needs to be prioritised. Sufficient funding for housing supports will be crucial to implement this recommendation.
  • Processing of applications for international protection in a timely and fair manner, as outlined in the report.
  •  Continuation of Tusla support of young people who have arrived in the country as unaccompanied minors and who have turned 18 years. This should continue for at least as long as they are in the international protection process, as well as access to care leavers’ after care supports.
  • Many children and young people applying for international protection experience bullying and racism at schools and in their neighbourhoods. We recommend anti-racism and human rights training for teachers. This will help to raise awareness of issues and deepen the understanding of people from different backgrounds.
  • Providing children and young people access to engaging indoor and outdoor activities in order to support their mental wellbeing. (e.g., sport, games, travel, music and singing, creating art). These are greatly needed in reception centres, as well as in their schools and local communities, to enable social inclusion.
  •  Introducing vulnerability assessments, conducted and overseen by appropriate bodies (independent of the IPO), and ensuring that people have timely access to mental and physical health supports should be prioritised.
  • Improvement of access to the labour market and education system as outlined in the report. Optional needs and capacity assessments should be undertaken to identify roadblocks to employment and integration. Services should be provided to ensure people are well equipped to achieve their chosen potential.

We welcome the conclusion of the report that the current system of Direct Provision is not fit for purpose and that it should be ended. We also welcome the recommendation to shorten the international protection decision-making process. A whole of Government approach, as proposed by the report, will be crucial to implement the outlined recommendations.

We suggest for transparency, accountability and to ensure implementation, the Department commit to delivery dates for key milestones, as part of a phased project plan concluding in mid-2023.

We look forward to your response – thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Cordula Bieri

On behalf of Comhlámh Ireland Says Welcome Group