Direct Provision and the Rights of the Child in Ireland
Liam Thornton, “Direct Provision and the Rights of the Child in Ireland” (2014) 17(3) Irish Journal of Family Law 68-76.
19 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 1, 2014
The system of direct provision is 14 years old this year. Direct provision is the phrase used to describe the system Ireland utilises to provide minimum support to those claiming refugee, subsidiary protection, or leave to remain. Within direct provision, asylum seekers are provided with bed and board, along with a weekly allowance. Accommodation is provided by the Reception and Integration Agency, a sub-unit of the Department of Justice and Equality. The weekly allowance, known as direct provision allowance, is paid by the Department of Social Protection. Asylum seekers, while having authorised presence in the State, are not entitled to any other social welfare payment (including child benefit) and cannot seek or enter employment, on pain of criminal conviction. A number of other supports are provided to asylum seekers, including education up to leaving certificate level (if person is of an appropriate age) and entitlement to a medical card. Direct provision, introduced in April 2000, came at a time of considerable moral panic about ‘welfare abuse’ by asylum seekers in Ireland. For over 14 years, this system has existed on an extra-legislative basis and without any in-depth examination, from the legislature or the judiciary on the impact that direct provision has on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of asylum seekers.
This article explores the rights of the child and direct provision in Ireland. First, I will outline the key features of direct provision and the concerns expressed about this system from a children’s rights perspective. Secondly, I will examine the degree to which Ireland is abiding by international obligations as regards children in direct provision, with a core focus on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thirdly, I will consider legal challenges to the system of direct provision in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Finally, I will argue for the need to adopt a human rights compliant system that fully respects, protects and vindicates the socio-economic rights of child asylum seekers in Ireland.
Keywords: Irish Studies, Refugee Studies, Immigration, Asylum Law, European Union, European Immigration and Asylum Law, International Refugee Law, Asylum seekers, Irish Law, Relationship Between Domestic and International Law, Direct Provision
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