Direct Provision and the Refugee Application Process in Ireland
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Direct Provision can come across one way online and it shows a completely different reality when you talk to the people living within it.
Here we talk about the definition of Direct Provision and answer frequently asked questions such as: What is Direct Provision? How does an Asylum Seeker apply for Asylum In Ireland? What qualifies someone for refugee status?
What is Direct Provision? By definition 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. (RIA)
What is an Asylum Seeker?
An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined.
Reasons that qualify someone to apply for asylum
If you are unable to return to your home country because of fear of persecution, unable to live safely there or unable to get protection from authorities there.
Reasons for persecution
Race, religion, nationality, political opinions, membership of a particular group/gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, which in turn means you are marginalised from society.
Who grants Asylum in Ireland?
It is the responsibility of the Irish State, not the UNHCR, to decide who is granted asylum in Ireland. Applicants must submit an asylum application to the International Protection Office, (IPO), and this is only possible when in Ireland. (UNHCR, Ireland)
The IPO will review your case and if it is successful the Minister for Justice and Equality will confirm that you are entitled asylum.
Other protections offered
Subsidiary protection: a status offered to those who are not granted which offers refugees very similar as an Irish citizen. If you are at risk of serious harm if sent home, you can stay in Ireland and your application can be reviewed.
Permission to Remain: if you are not granted refugee status or subsidiary protection, you may remain in Ireland for humanitarian or other reasons, and are given the same rights as an Irish citizen. (INIS)
How to apply for Asylum in Ireland
Make a claim at port of entry to IPO.
They are asked questions like: Do you want to make a claim for asylum? if so on what grounds? They will be questioned on identity, nationality and journey to Ireland. Photographs and fingerprints are taken. (fingerprints shared with EURODAC to determine whether you or your family have previously applied for asylum in another EEA country) (NASC)
The process - 'the waiting game'
''Ireland has created a system that boils the process of seeking asylum down to its essence: waiting.'’ Masha Gessen (The New Yorker)
When you arrive the International Protection Officer will refer you to the Reception of Integration Agency, and you will be taken to the reception centre in the Dublin area. The should only be for a short period of time, until the RIA finds you a place in a direct provision centre. You are medically assessed and screened by an immigration officer during this period.
You are also given a temporary residence certificate can apply for a PPS number.
Asylum seekers are NOT required to live in direct provision centres, but if you do not avail of this option you have to source your own accommodation and will receive no accommodation allowance from the government. You will still receive the Daily expense allowance. (€29.80 children, €39.80 adults, per week)
You also have to seek legal advice to fill out a long questionnaire called the Application for International Protection Questionnaire followed by more interviews. (free legal service with the Legal Aid Board)
The Right to work: since June 2018, applicants who have been waiting for a first instance decision for at least 9 months are eligible to work in Ireland. A first instance decision is one by the IPO as to whether or not you should be declared a refugee or not. (NASC)
A child under the age of 18 arriving in Ireland will be referred to the Child and Family Agency (Tusla). Tusla will then help the minor apply for asylum, and are responsible for the general care and well-being of the child. (citizens information Ireland)
Reality of direct provision
Up until the 1990s, Ireland took in very few refugees. At the turn of the century, asylum applications in Ireland were escalating and the government set up direct provision system in response to the global refugee crisis . Direct provision was introduced as an emergency measure in 1999, to offer applicants short-term accommodation. Twenty years later, the system still remains and is widely criticised by human rights defenders as inadequate, degrading and inhumane.
Asylum seekers were intended to stay in DP for 6 months, people end up spending several years in the system.
Each center is different meaning some provide worse conditions than others.
Over 1000 people have spent over 4 years in direct provision. 40% spend more than 2 years in direct provision.
⅓ those in direct provision are children.
The system systematically segregates asylum seekers from Irish society; placing them on the outskirts of towns, where no people of colour live, makes it inherently difficult for them to integrate into society.
Food is minimalistic, repetitive and can often run out in some centres.
Access to basic goods can be challenging: school clothes, hygiene products, leapcards etc.
The mental health of people in direct provision is proven to be very poor - ‘creating broken people in direct provision'. (Barry Whyte, Newstalk)
Profiting off Direct Provision
The winner in this system isn’t the asylum seeker or the government, it's the private companies running the centres.
Top 5 Direct provision companies 2000-2015
Campbell Catering t/2/ Aramark €41,000,000
Mill St. Equestrian Centre Unlimited €73,000,000
Bridgestock Unlimited €90,3000,000
East Coast Catering Ireland Unlimited €112,000,000
Mosney Unlimited €122,000,000
Want more information?
I find learning about what it is on paper is just the beginning to understanding what the day in the life is like for someone within Direct Provision. Here are some more resources that will help you develop a fuller picture. We will also be providing more articles online so stay tuned!
Tumis Story: Tumi goes through her experience in Direct Provision. You can see her first experiences above. The full story can be found through this link or on our instagram. We are releasing more stories from people in DP so be sure to follow and stay tuned.
AbolishDP: Really informative instagram and website. Showcase accounts of people in Direct Provision and provide an excellent account of what is happening in DP right now.
Infomigrants: Factual, bullet point explanation of what happens to Asylum seekers who enter Ireland
Doras: Really informative page on the changes that have been made so far in ending direct provision! Includes links to reports too.
Irish Refugee Council: Provides in dept reports on the current experience of people within DP. Harrowing reports on their experience with Covid - 19
How to help Lets Help Direct Provision?
At the moment we are coming into the winter and will be fundraising to carry out our Christmas Drops. You can donate to us through our Patreon here. We are looking for people to donate to us monthly so we can continue providing drops all year round. If you would like to make a one time donation you can do so though here.
Thank you for reading and feel to ask any questions!