Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says Department of Justice plays a key role in ending direct provision

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said strengthened staffing and resources for the Department of Justice will be key to ending the system of direct provision.

Deputy Pringle said there were welcome aspects to the White Paper on ending direct provision, “however, as always, the key to the success of the strategy to end direct provision will lie in the implementation. Unless the huge backlog of people waiting for decisions on their application is addressed, there is absolutely no way that the 2024 deadline to end direct provision will be met.”

Deputy Pringle addressed the Dáil today, during statements by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on direct provision.

Deputy Pringle said: “Minister, would you agree that the Department of Justice is a large cog in the wheel of progress here? There needs to be a significant increase in staffing and resources at the Department of Justice, the International Protection Office, the International Protection Appeals Tribunal and the Legal Aid Board. 

“I don’t doubt your intention regarding the White Paper, but it just doesn’t have any teeth without buy-in from Justice,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said that January 2021 reports showed that of the 7,494 people seeking asylum, 5,259 were awaiting a first-instance decision on their case and 1,662 were awaiting an IPAT decision.  More than 6,900 of those people were living in direct provision, including 1,993 children.

Deputy Pringle said: “People are reportedly left in limbo waiting for a decision for up to 18 months, then they are further trapped in direct provision because of the unavailability of housing options.”

Deputy Pringle said he still had questions about the vulnerability assessment process.

He said: “I have been informed that if a ‘vulnerability is indicated’, follow-on referrals will be made. There are 144 children awaiting a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services appointment in Donegal, 33 of whom have been waiting for over 12 months. Resources must be provided to ensure that timely services are available to vulnerable people.”

Deputy Pringle has been writing to the relevant ministers since the end of last year about preparing Letterkenny for the arrival of new families and children. He also offered a céad míle fáilte to the families who have started moving into the new, own-door direct provision accommodation in Letterkenny.

Deputy Pringle said: “Unfortunately, this centre is still being run by a private company with choices limited as to where residents can shop and no real independent complaints mechanism.” The deputy said he had also been excluded from visits to the centre arranged for local representatives, though he had asked numerous times for a visit.

He said: “I have serious concerns around the need for an independent complaints mechanism for the accommodation centre. I do not think that it is satisfactory that residents should first complain to the centre manager or then to IPAS.”