Ombudsman says Direct Provision centres 'not really suited' to longer stays

A report highlights communication issues and a lack of cooking facilities as some of the main issues for residents

Ombudsman says Direct Provision centres 'not really suited' to longer stays

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Ombudsman says people living in Direct Provision centres need to be given more support to work and resettle in their own home.

The Ombudsman's newly-published commentary highlights communication issues between residents and staff, with differences in cultural backgrounds often a factor in such issues.

Availability of cooking facilities, meanwhile, is seen as the "single most important issue for residents", according to the report.

It also points out that facilities such as childcare vary from centre to centre, "much to the frustration of the residents of centres at which the facilities are not provided". 

However, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall also stresses that many additional facilities are the result of the involvement of local groups or 'particularly proactive' management - meaning many centres fully comply with their contractual obligations even when these additional facilities are not provided.

Based on visits to the centres over a year, Mr Tyndall says they're not suited to long-term stays and some improvements are needed.

He explained: "Direct Provision centres were fine for their intended purpose, which is very short stays. They're not really suited to the much longer stays that many people have found themselves with.

"As a consequence, I think we need to see much better efforts at resettlement. We'd like to see people being able to work, as the courts have found they should be able to."

He added: "We're keeping a very close eye on what's happening with the new speeded-up asylum process [...] We'd also like to see that families are able to keep together."

Asylum seekers in Direct Provision currently receive full board accommodation, as well as personal allowances of €21.60 per adult and €21.60 euro per child per week.

A landmark Supreme Court ruling last year found that banning asylum seekers from seeking employment can be seen as unconstitutional.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has detailed proposed reforms of the immigration system to address the court's ruling - in particular proposing that Ireland opts into the EU Reception Conditions Directive, which addresses the right to work of asylum seekers.