Newly enlarged Department of Children must be adequately resourced to be effective
The Immigrant Council of Ireland and Nasc, Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre have today (10.7.20) joined forces to welcome the widened remit of the Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration but have urged for sufficient resources to ensure it is able to function effectively.
Brian Killoran, CEO, Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “We want to congratulate Minister O’Gorman in his new role and look forward to working with him particularly in the areas of ensuring the rights of migrant children, equality and integration. However it’s clear that additional resources must accompany the expanded responsibilities given to the Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, which includes remits previously sitting with the Departments of Health and Justice, so the Minister can effectively discharge his duties.
“We are at a crucial stage when it comes to migrant integration in Ireland and the next Government has both a great opportunity and responsibility to get it right. As we all saw from the spontaneous reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement here in Ireland, people from a migrant background face racism and discrimination across every aspect in life and urgent action is needed to tackle it.
“Public attitudes to migration and diversity in Ireland are, for the most part, extremely positive, and this positivity must be built upon to ensure we carve our own path in this area and not let inequality and divisiveness derail our development as a society, and as communities. To avoid the mistakes of countries where these issues have been exploited by political opportunists requires deep planning and consultation, increased investment and a high level of political prioritisation.
“This means ring-fencing resources, including staff time and funding, to develop and implement the new National Migrant Integration Strategy and the National Action Plan Against Racism. These must include measurable targets, events and activities knitted across departments to ensure there is a positive impact. The economic and cultural benefits of migration are huge and it is vital the new Department is supported to realise them.”
Fiona Finn, CEO, Nasc, said, “The Programme for Government pledge to end direct provision has been rightly welcomed as one of the most significant developments in the 20-year history of direct provision. This week the timely report of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Direct Division, offered a stark and unflinching view into the lives of children living in direct provision who find themselves impoverished, excluded and othered by the system. It is a reminder, if any were needed, that the work of ending direct provision cannot wait any longer.
“Dismantling the system of direct provision is a mammoth task. It is hard to undo two decades of discrimination overnight and we need to ensure that resources are given to the new Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration not just to work on the very pressing accommodation issues but also to ensure that everyone who enters our international protection process has the ability to live in safety and dignity. In the meantime, decisions need to be made regarding an independent inspection system for direct provision centres until such time as they are replaced.
“There has been a huge amount of work done by activists, residents and NGOs over the last two decades on what changes are needed, and what an alternative reception could and should look like. We strongly urge Minister O’Gorman to build on these foundations.
“It is uncertain as yet where responsibility will lie for the other fundamentally important matters that affect the daily lives of international protection applicants - such as the implementation of a real vulnerability assessment, the provision of early legal advice and reducing the length of time before people can access the right to work. We need to ensure that there is real cooperation between those Departments whose responsibilities to international protection applicants overlap.”
Pippa Woolnough, Communications and Advocacy Manager, Immigrant Council of Ireland, email@example.com, 085 864 0682
Fiona Hurley, Policy and Communications Manager, Nasc- Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, FionaHurley@nascireland.org, 087 104 3284