• Clodagh Meaney

Immigrant Council welcome government outline for diversity and migrant integration

It comes as party leaders agreed upon The Programme for Government today

By Clodagh Meaney

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has welcomed the governments outline for diversity and migrant integration.

It comes as The Programme for Government was agreed upon today by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party leaders Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan.

As part of the programme, the Government announced that they have appointed former Secretary-General of the European Commission, Catherine Day, to consider a new long-term approach to International Protection to change the current system of Direct Provision which is in place.

While welcoming the news, the Immigrant Council noted that the "proof of true commitment – and real impact – will depend upon the priority, actions and resourcing the new Government provides to fill in this outline."

Brian Killoran, CEO, Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: "We welcome the broad commitments contained within the Programme for Government document to promote equality and migrant integration, but must stress the importance of this being followed by prioritisation and action."

"Ireland’s increasing diversity is a reality and cross-departmental buy-in is essential, so leadership must come from the top, not just relegated to the Department of Justice and Equality."

Mr Killoran said that plans for a national action plan against racism are long overdue.

"We must listen to the recent spontaneous outpouring from black and ethnic minority Irish telling us their experiences and ensure this expertise informs the development of the action plan and all associated anti-racist activity."

Mr Killoran added, “While ending Direct Provision and replacing with a not-for-profit model is welcome, this must go hand-in-hand with investment in the International Protection Office to ensure timely and fair decision-making."

It comes as there have been renewed calls for the abolition of Direct Provision following the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement into the global consciousness.

"The same must go for the immigration system itself – the strains of ongoing under-resourcing have been laid bare during the coronavirus pandemic. We welcome the pledge to provide pathways to regularisation for long-term undocumented," he continued.

The council recently called for Direct Provision to be phased out and replaced with accommodation facilities which afford dignity to residents.

Mr Kiloran called for the Naturalisation and Immigration Service to be adequately funded as well as reform to the immigration system.

“To deal with the backlog in decision-making and processing, not only must the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service be adequately funded, but the formation of the new Government must provide the opportunity to reform the red-tape heavy immigration system."

"It should develop and publish guidelines for all immigration applications and registration-related requirements for clearer, less bureaucratic decision-making, and ensure access to civil legal aid and independent appeals mechanism for all immigration and citizenship decisions."

The plan for government promised to publish a paper by the end of 2020 setting out how a new system would be structured and the steps to achieving it.

In the short term, they have promised to act on interim recommendations from the Chair of the Expert Group on Direct Provision to improve conditions for asylum seekers currently living in the system.

The promised changes include vulnerability assessments, the right to work, the ability to apply for driver licences and bank accounts, an independent inspection process, measures to reduce the length of time in processing decisions, mental health services, and the training of managers of Direct Provision Centres.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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