Direct Provision has damaging effect on children

System is "unethical and stigmatising"
  • Deborah Condon

Children living in Direct Provision are significantly more likely to be referred to the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, new research has found.

They are also more likely to experience poverty, extreme deprivation and social exclusion, according to the findings.

The Department of Justice states that Direct Provision is "a means of meeting the basic needs of food and shelter for asylum seekers directly while their claims for refugee status are being processed rather than through full cash payments".

Accommodation is provided on a on a full-board basis. The cost of all meals, heat, light, laundry, household maintenance, etc... are paid directly by the State, and personal allowances of €21.60 per person are paid each week.

However, the system has been heavily criticised due to a number of issues, such as not being allowed to work (this has changed in recent years however a number of barriers to working still remain), not being able to cook for themselves, and not being allowed to attend third level education.

The research by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is highlighted in the latest edition of the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ). It shows that children in Direct Provision are nine times more likely to be referred to Tusla.

Writing in the IMJ, Dr Ellen Crushell, of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI), pointed out that a report in 2015 had made 173 recommendations about how to improve Direct Provision. However two years later, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre said that only half of these had been implemented.

Dr Crushell noted that there has been some improvement in relation to the length of stays in Direct Provision. In 2015, 41% of people had been residing there for five years or more. By 2018, this figure had fallen to 5.8%.

However, she also highlighted that when Direct Provision was first introduced, the estimated length of stay while applications were being processed was six months.

"As a country with such a significant history of harm done to children in institutional care, it is regrettable that we seem to not have learned from our past experiences.

"Migrant children are extremely vulnerable and should be placed in family appropriate housing with appropriate supports to ensure mental health and their ongoing emotional development," Dr Crushell insisted.

She added that Ireland's system of putting children in Direct Provision "is unethical, stigmatising and needs to end".




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