Overhaul of ‘Direct Provision’ System Must See Government Targets Set and Met For 2021 and Beyond

Commission advises actions to tackle root cause of problems in direct provision system

People arriving in Ireland to seek international protection need to have their applications dealt with quickly, and need access to vulnerability assessments, as a key pillar of change in accommodation practices, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has set out today.

The Commission has made public its recommendations on the Government’s Direct Provision White Paper to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

The Commission sets out seven guiding principles the State needs to adopt in reform of its international protection system. This includes a focus on integration from day one, access to education and training, and early and effective access to the labour market.

The Commission calls on the State to show international and national leadership in recognising and speaking positively about the contributions of refugees and those seeking international protection in our society.

As Ireland’s national human rights institution and national equality body, the Commission also makes specific recommendations on the issue of accommodation, including that:

  • The system of ‘direct provision’ should be replaced completely by a two-stage accommodation system addressing people’s needs as they arrive, with longer term accommodation needs to be available after a maximum of 3 months.
  • The profit motivation needs to be removed from the system, while interpretation, legal and medical advice needs to be added to.
  • A diversity of housing needs to be provided for, with a specialist housing liaison service established and staffed.
  • There needs to be ambitious annual targets set by the State for the delivery of the new accommodation model from 2021. The Commission points out that we cannot wait three years to see meaningful progress.

The current reception approach raises urgent and serious human rights and equality concerns that require immediate action, including that:

  • Independent Inspections of accommodation start immediately, including unannounced visits, and problems fixed as identified.
  • The dependency on unsuitable emergency accommodation such as hotels needs to end in favour of “own door” accommodation.
  • The blocking of people’s access to drivers licences, bank accounts, education and health services needs to be ended by the provision of wraparound services from day one.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“If the Government is serious about reforming our international protection system, it needs to start with this White Paper, setting out how Ireland is to become a leader in showing people fleeing mistreatment and persecution the dignity they deserve, and the welcome we can offer.

“There have been enough promises since the system of direct provision was established as an emergency measure twenty years ago.  This White Paper needs to focus on targets being set and met each year.”



For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095


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Editor’s Note

The full submission from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is available at the following link: https://www.ihrec.ie/documents/ihrec-white-paper-submission-direct-provision/

The Commission has published these legislative observations in line with its mandate to keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice in the State relating to the protection of human rights and equality, and to make recommendations to the Government to strengthen and uphold human rights and equality in the State.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.