The Human Rights of Ireland website is reporting that a family of six will take a legal challenge against the system of direct provision in a case (N.M. and others V Minister for Justice and Equality, Minister for Social Protection, the Attorney General and Ireland).
The family, originally from Africa, includes a mother, father and their four children, who range in age from 20 to a few weeks. They have been living in direct provision for four and a half years.
Their challenge against the system of direct provision is three-fold:
1) The system of direct provision – which was set up 14 years ago, in 1999, and was supposed to see families or individuals live in it for six months – has never been given a statutory basis. As a consequence of that, the family are arguing that the direct provision allowance of €19.10 per week per adult and €9.60 per week per child is beyond the powers of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.
2) The family are also arguing that the exclusion of asylees from any social welfare payments through the Habitual Residence Condition is unconstitutional.
3) The family are also challenging the ban on a right to work and seek work. They claim this ban is unconstitutional as the State is obliged to defend and vindicate the rights of individuals and the right to family and private life.
Dr Liam Thornton, of Human Rights Ireland and who is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin, writes:
“It remains to be seen whether the applicants will be granted leave to challenge the system of direct provision. Legal arguments aside, life in direct provision is dehumanising. There is a total lack of respect for dignity of individuals, a highly controlled environment, struggling to survive on a meagre financial allowance, an inability to feel included within the community, the inability of children to grow up in a normal family centred household, the stress, boredom and anxiety for the adults of having nothing to do all day. This is a day in the life of a direct provision resident. At a time when Ireland is rightly correcting historical wrongs of our past institutionalisation of women, the on-going scandal that is the system of direct provision, may finally be put under the spotlight. The current government (including some Ministers who vocally opposed direct provision in opposition) need to reflect on the untold damage that direct provision is having on its residents.”
“Our failures are essentially human rights failures and we should be particularly alive to the fact that, never more so than at a time of recession and austerity, are bodies such as a Human Rights Commission and an Equality Authority needed to make sure that in a decade’s time we won’t be weeping our way through another pitiful cataloguing of State-inflicted abuse, albeit with a modern twist.”
Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co. Donegal last night.
Previously: Enemy Of The State
Pic: Screengrab from Discouragement