Equality Measure for Children in Direct Provision Welcomed
Thursday, 4 February 2016: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today (4.2.16) the Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes the commitment made by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, in principle to allow asylum-seeking living in Direct Provision to have their complaints independently examined by the Ombudsman for Children. The Minister’s commitment (which is subject to the advice of the Attorney General) would further implementation of the Working Group report published last summer on ‘Improvements to the Protection Process’. It will allow children to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, with adult being entitled to complain to the Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall. You can learn more about this development here.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Alliance, says: “Today’s commitment from Minister Fitzgerald is one of her most important achievements for asylum seeking children hugely symbolic. It will also have real impact on the lives of 1,200 children currently living in direct provision. It says loud and clear that children living in direct provision must be treated equally. Along with any other child in Ireland, they will now have the right to complain to the Ombudsman for Children on matters of maladministration within the direct provision system. The Ombudsman for Children Office has a excellent track record in working with public bodies to resolve disputes and in promoting the adoption a child-centred culture.
Children in direct provision are some of the most vulnerable children in the country. Despite this, they are the only group of children to be statutorily excluded from the remit of the Ombudsman for Children. The Children’s Rights Alliance has been advocating for change on this issues since 2002. We represented children’s interests on the Working Group on the Protection Process (November 2014-June 2015), and together with Unicef Ireland, supported children from direct provision to raise this issue with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child last June 2015.
We will track this commitment closely to ensure it is delivered as a matter of priority.
Today’s commitment is a clear statement that all children living in Ireland are equal. They have rights and are entitled to be respected, protected and listened. Today is a good day for children’s rights.
The Direct Provision system provides room and board within former hotels, hostels or other large buildings to those seeking protection in Ireland. Each centre is managed by private contractors on behalf of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).