Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Committee on Public Petitions

Direct Provision Policy and Related Matters: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Pat BuckleyPat Buckley (Cork East, Sinn Fein)
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I thank the Chair and the witnesses for coming in today. Many things have been covered. I welcome the fact that the Department is working towards a not-for-profit approach because anything for-profit does not really ring a bell when it comes to proper services; it is profit is profit.

The oversight group and congregation settings have been covered. One of the things I am always worried about is that the people who arrive here have come from very stressful places. I am always worried about their mental health. There will also be people who have disabilities, and people with both disabilities and mental health issues. We know that in this country, even in the Thirty-two Counties, we do not have a service to provide assistance or help to people who are suffering disabilities and mental health issues. Has this been looked into?

I am worried about the timelines. I welcome the fact that money not spent this year may be carried over. Hopefully, the Department's budget will be increased because there is much work to be done.

I would like to flag the fact that something will have to be done as these people are very traumatised. I remind people watching this committee that these people are not coming here for a holiday. They have not come from a happy place. People have to be conscious of the fact that this is about helping people. The Irish people may have a short memory in that we had to go to Australia, Great Britain and America. I would like people to be more conscious of that and more supportive.

Many of these people are very well educated. They are very willing to work so the process should be sped up as quickly as possible to get them back into the workforce and get them out of congregated settings. Has that been looked at? If not, will it be looked at? There is no service in this country for someone with a disability and a mental health issue. I am flagging this issue and maybe the Secretary General will flag it with the new independent oversight group and say to it that it is going to be another problem that will come down the line and that these people will get lost through the cracks.