Children Seeking Asylum Cannot Wait Longer for Promises to be Made Real
Judge McMahon, Chair of Landmark Report to Address Proceedings
The Children’s Rights Alliance is hosting a landmark conference today (Thursday, 8 June 2017) to mark the two-year anniversary of the publication of the McMahon Report. This Report, published in June 2015 contained 173 recommendations to improve and reform direct provision and the asylum process in Ireland. This important conference entitled ‘Measuring Up’ is a stocktake of progress achieved and will identify outstanding gaps on the report's recommendations, in particular those affecting children and families.
Judge Bryan McMahon, the Chair of the Working Group on Direct Provision and the Protection Process (that produced the McMahon Report) will officially open the conference. The event is timely given the recent Supreme Court judgment regarding the right to work for asylum seekers, which will have a knock-on impact on families.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children's Rights Alliance, says: “Children cannot wait any longer for promises to be made real. Despite some improvements to direct provision and the asylum process in the last two years, many children in the system are living in poverty and suffer from extreme social exclusion. Children have told me that they are ashamed to tell their friends that they live in direct provision. Children have also told me that they cannot afford to go on school trips or go to a friend’s birthday party.
Children in direct provision receive just €15.60 per week falling well short of the €29.80 recommended in the McMahon Report. While there was a small increase over a year ago to this payment, it was described as an interim measure and clearly it’s not enough. Parents are still forced to choose between buying a bottle of Calpol for one sick child over paying for their other child to play a game of hurling. An increase of another €6 would cost less than €500,000 until the end of the year, a small amount when you consider the positive impact it would have for children and their families.
Crucially, the now two-year old McMahon Report committed to the roll-out of self-catering accommodation for families in centres. This has begun to happen in some centres already, but more action is needed so all families in the system can cook for themselves and experience normal family life.
Another critical recommendation from the Report was the introduction of national standards in direct provision centres and independent inspections to ensure that people can live in dignity while they await an answer on their claim for asylum. While some preparatory work is taking place, far more is needed to address the reality where the standard of living in centres differs considerably depending on where you live.
On the positive side, children living in direct provision can now make complaints to the Ombudsman for Children, something that has been called for over many years. Independent complaints like this are important because they help government and service providers change or improve the service they are providing to people.”
The packed, day-long line-up will hear inputs from: key civil servants working in child protection, asylum and international protection; a young person who has lived in direct provision; civil society and human rights representatives; and, academics from social work, human rights and refugee law.
For further information, please contact Emma McKinley on 087 655 9067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor:
• The conference takes place today, Thursday 8 June 2017 at the Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
• Social Media: Twitter: @ChildRightsIRL #Measuring Up
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/childrensrightsalliance/
• Web: www.childrensrights.ie
• The full agenda is as follows:
10.15 -10.20: Welcome: Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance
10.20 – 10.30: Opening Remarks: Judge Bryan McMahon, former Chair of the Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers.
10.30 – 10.45: Video input: Natasha Maimba (member of our ‘Picture Your Rights’ Project Team)
10.45-12.00: PANEL SESSION I: Accountability, Oversight and Safeguarding Children
Chair: Judge McMahon, former Chair of the Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers.
• Michele Clarke, Social Work Specialist, Department of Children & Youth Affairs.
• Saoirse Brady: Legal & Policy Director, Children’s Rights Alliance.
• Dr. Muireann Ní Raghallaigh (University College Dublin) & Maeve Foreman (Trinity College Dublin).
12.00-12.15: TEA & COFFEE
12.20-1.20: PANEL SESSION II: Accommodation and Support
Chair: Denise Charlton, Chair of the Children’s Rights Alliance Child Refugee Advisory Group.
• Carol Baxter: Head of Asylum Services, Integration & Equality.
• Fiona Finn: CEO, NASC.
• Professor Siobhan Mullally: Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice & Human Rights & IHREC Commissioner.
2.00-3.15: PANEL SESSION III: Children and the International Protection Process
Chair: Enda O’ Neill, Head of Office UNHCR Ireland.
• Brian Merriman, Principal Officer for Asylum Policy, Department of Justice & Equality.
• David Costello, Chief International Protection Officer & Head of the International Protection Office
• Dr. Ciara Smyth, Lecturer in the School of Law, NUI Galway
3.15: Closing Remarks: Hilary Harmon, Child Refugee Initiative Project Manager, Children’s Rights Alliance