Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 1 April 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions
Direct Provision: Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality
I have visited a number of centres. They vary in their standards. Some are excellent. Some are much less so. I could envisage staying in some, but there are some in which I would not spend a night. No matter what the standard of accommodation is, those who are seeking asylum do not want to live in direct provision centres.
I cannot stand over a system in which the issues that the Senator has outlined continue, that belittles people, in which people live hopeless, unproductive lives and where they stay for a number of years. I could stand over a system where there was a number of excellent centres in which people lived fulfilling lives and engaged in training, education and more, where they stayed for just a number of months, not years, and where the issues outlined by the Senator no longer existed. I cannot stand over a system in which the institutionalisation of families becomes a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly reality.
Initially, I was reluctant to engage with the committee on this issue because of the nature of the work that was being undertaken by the working group. In my personal opinion, we could have a system of direct provision that afforded people their dignity, but that would only be possible if people living in centres had excellent facilities and a meaningful existence, were rooted in the hearts of their communities with all of the essential links, had genuine family lives and their stays were short, by which I mean six months and no longer.