Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.18 21 Oct 2020


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Helen McEntee has acknowledged the direct provision system 'does need to change', after a new report recommended the system be 'fully' replaced by mid-2023.

However, she says the recommendations of the report now need to be closely examined before a full plan is agreed by Government.

The report of an advisory group chaired by Dr Catherine Day proposes a number of changes to the current system.

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It proposes that after three months in a reception centre, asylum seekers should move to own-door accommodation.

It's also calling for applications for international protection and appeals to be processed faster.

The report also recommends that asylum seekers should have immediate access to the labour market as soon as they leave the reception centre, rather than having to wait nine months.

Government officials will now review the report, before producing a 'white paper' on implementing the changes by the end of the year.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, the Justice Minister said the Government notes the new report - but it now needs to be fully considered by her department.

McEntee says direct provision 'needs to change' as report recommends new system by 2023

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Minister McEntee explained: "We've clearly set out in the programme for Government that we need a new system.

"It's not perfect, it's far from it, and it does need to change.

"We are very clearly setting about a white paper, and will do so by the end of the year - setting out how we will implement these recommendations, but also we'll have to examine and explore them and see how they can be implemented, or if they need to be adapted or changed."

New system

The Justice Minister said the Government has already committed to moving away from a system provided by private sector companies, and towards an NGO-based system.

She said: "What the report is essentially recommending is that a person when they arrive would change a short period of time before transitioning into accommodation in the community - turn-key, own-door [accommodation].

"We are noting the report, and the important work now is to look at these recommendations and see how feasible they are.

"Some of them do require a lot more engagement... we're talking about a short period of time that would be set out before someone receives turn-key accommodation."

Minister McEntee said the recommendations come as the Government is already trying to build 20,000 houses a year to deal with the current accommodation shortage.

Earlier, Minister McEntee's Cabinet colleague Roderic O'Gorman pledged that a new system will be 'introduced and operational' by the end of the Government's lifetime.

Main image: File photo of Helen McEntee. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

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