30 June 2015
REPORT OF WORKING GROUP ON DIRECT PROVISION
Three elements of this report are of grave concern to ICP
1. The effective amnesty for those over 5 years in the system. Every amnesty is treasonous towards Irish citizens who, given the existence of an asylum system, are entitled to a situation where those who pass the system stay and those who fail are made to leave.
Given the median time for assessing claims in recent years (12 weeks for first instance; 18 for appeal), those who have been 5 years in the system have already been told "no" at least twice. They are therefore among the cohort most likely to be abusing the system yet they are going to be told "you may stay in Ireland forever".
This is the first PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGED amnesty of this type, but there have been previous secret ones; see the speech of Trevor Ó Clochartaigh in the Seanad, 22 Oct. 2014.
2. The right to work. The report says it will aim to assess claims within 12 months. Again, those over 9 months will include many who will have been refused protection or will be about to be refused and will be the cohort most likely to be abusing the system. They will be rewarded with the right to work. The last time we brought in a right to work for a particular cohort, in 1999, the Department admitted it appeared to cause a spike in applications.
It is frequently said that we are one of only 2 countries that do not give a right to work. That is very misleading. For example, our nearest neighbour, the UK only allows work from a highly restricted list of occupations where there is a skills shortage, with the result that almost no asylum seekers are entitled to work. The reference of the executive summary to the UK in this regard is particularly misleading.
3. Right to free third level education. Every other EU state limits education rights for asylum seekers to primary and secondary education. We were once the only country in the EU giving automatic citizenship at birth. It made us a target and we had to change. The very active grapevine will work to make us a target now that we are the only ones to do this. We specially warned the Working Group on this issue.
Áine Ní Chonaill, PRO