National Standards for accommodation potentially transformative for families in the protection process but need for independent inspectorate essential for their success

Published date: 
16 Aug 2019

PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release

National Standards for accommodation potentially transformative for families in the protection process but need for independent inspectorate essential for their success

The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes yesterday’s publication of the National Standards for accommodation offered to people in the protection process. These Standards are essential to ensure that refugee and asylum-seeking children receive a consistent standard of high-quality care in all accommodation centres no matter where they are in the country.

The Standards were published alongside the Department of Justice and Equality’s Spending Review which noted an increase in expenditure on Direct Provision from €78 million in 2018 to an expected €120 million in 2019. The increase is due to a number of factors, one of which is the continued effort of the Department to improve the standard of accommodation. The National Standards published yesterday detail a number of planned improvements that will improve quality, challenge underperformance and provide oversight in the centres. 

They contain a number of child-friendly indicators including a standard that requires own-door accommodation for families, the development of a culture of consultation with residents including children and young people who will be ‘encouraged and empowered to actively participate when they are consulted on matters which affect them’ as well as specific standards relating to meeting the needs of babies, children and nursing mothers.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance responding to yesterday’s publication of the Standards said, “We need to see an end to institutionalisation and the introduction of these new Standards have the capacity to change Direct Provision as we know it. Finally people seeking protection are seen as deserving care. Own door accommodation is key to ending the institutionalisation of families in Direct Provision and we are pleased to see that the Standards provide for this. They also provide for consistency which has been a real problem in the system. Children were treated differently throughout the country and this is unacceptable. 

The Spending Review points to a number of alternatives to the Direct Provision System and we fully support the Department of Justice and Equality in their commitment to a review of the system. The State must get building. We can no longer rely on the private market to house vulnerable people in our care”. 

Tanya Ward continued, “While we acknowledge that the publication of the National Standards is an important step, we must see the introduction of an independent monitoring and inspection system to have a real impact for families and children living in Direct Provision accommodation. Without this independent inspectorate, the National Standards will lack the necessary oversight and accountability to achieve meaningful change”.

Finally, she concluded, “These Standards potentially represent a watershed moment for asylum seekers living in Ireland. However, the current situation whereby almost 1,000 people including families with children are living in emergency accommodation is unacceptable. This situation must be addressed as a matter of urgency or it threatens to undermine the progress made in relation to the Standards”.

ENDS
Contact: Emma Archbold
Tel: 01-6629400 
Email: emma.archbold@childrensrights.ie

Notes to Editor:
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive and Saoirse Brady, Legal and Policy Director are available for interview.
• The Children’s Rights Alliance was a member of the National Standards Advisory Group which was established on foot of the recommendation of the Working Group to report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers also known as the McMahon Report which was published in 2015.
The members included AkiDwA, Children’s Rights Alliance, Core Group of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Jesuit Refugee Service, Nasc (Irish Immigrant Support Centre), SPIRASI, UNHCR Ireland, Department of Justice Reception and Integration Agency, Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion.
• A full version of the National Standards can be accessed here.
• Spending Review 2019: Direct Provision: Overview of current accommodation expenditure

About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL