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[Direct provision accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Lissywoolen, Athlone, Co. Westmeath]

Last night, Prime Time looked at the system of direct provision, posing the question: is the system unfair or a necessary deterrent?

Direct provision is the institutional system which includes accommodation, meals and a personal allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child, per week, to asylees. They are not allowed to work. An EU directive would allow asylees to work in Ireland but the State declined to sign it.

Many have been waiting for over seven years in accommodation centres, such as the one in in Lissywoolen, above, for their application to be processed.

New rules to be introduced this year should see the application process speeded up for the  4,600 or so asylees that are currently in Ireland – approximately 1,700 of whom are children with many living in the direct provision system all their lives.

On Prime Time last night, reporter Tanya Sillem said a confidential Government briefing paper said the biggest concern about any alternative reception system would be the ‘pull factor’, basically a better system could attract more asylees.



During the programme, Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan, above, defended the State’s direct provision system, saying:

“They can’t earn money. They can’t earn, if you like, a living. What the State does is provides a sum of €19 a week. Of course it’s insufficient but this is the direct provision regime. We have to ensure that Ireland is not an attractive place for applicants to arrive on our shores in numbers that perhaps we simply couldn’t afford or that we couldn’t cope with.”

“I wouldn’t regard [direct provision] as a deterrent. I would recognise that there is a pull factor. That if we have a very attractive regime – where people can come in, sign up for very attractive social welfare rates on day one, that pull factor is going to be realised and we will have a challenge as a State, we’d find it very, very difficult to cope with.”

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