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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

4:00 pm

Photo of Aodhán Ó RíordáinAodhán Ó Ríordáin (Dublin North Central, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I can only speak from my perception of how the group is working. As I have outlined in my statement, I firmly believe that, if one wants to get solutions, the best place to be is in a room with people who are determined to find them.

I am committed to finding a way forward and want to turn the page on the current system. Many people in the Houses of the Oireachtas have raised deep concerns about the system. From the first moments I walked into this House people from all parties have raised concerns about the process and direct provision, in particular. We have had quite a number of robust exchanges in the Seanad on the matter. It is to the credit of Seanad Éireann, in particular, for taking on the issue. It has raised issues and concerns about direct provision with me for quite a while.

I know that the place for improvements and changes in the system is within the working group. I know that the people in the subgroups have remained with the process and are determined to be part of something that will deliver real change. This is a once in a generation opportunity, after 15 years of overseeing the system, to deliver something that will lead to change. My decision to not be involved with the group in a hands-on manner was deliberate. I trust the people engaged in the process and know them to be people of integrity, both within the Department and the various NGOs.

We have talked about direct provision for a number of years. For many of the people involved this has been a 15-year campaign. My involvement has been shorter and dates from my appointment as Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality. We are so close to getting a report that will deliver change that I am willing to wait until I see it. I believe the chairman and members of the group will be proud of their work and that we will, collectively, be proud of the report when published. I have anticipated the recommendations and am sure that we will collectively look back on this period saying it was a job well done.

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