Seanad debates

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


1:00 pm

Photo of Niall Ó DonnghaileNiall Ó Donnghaile (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I also want to raise the dire and serious situation in the Skellig Star direct provision centre. Direct provision is a stain on society. It is a great shame that this system prevails. The Government has made a commitment in its programme for Government to end that system. I fully endorse that. I want to see action on that and we need to see it now, not least for the people who are existing in some of these awful conditions. I have seen some of them, as I know other Members have also during our research in the previous Joint Committee on Justice and Equality. This is not far-gone suffering that is representative of an old Ireland, and that is not to diminish anyone who went through the mother and baby homes or institutions in this State. This is happening right now, as we sit here. There are people who have had to go on hunger strike because of the conditions in which they find themselves in direct provision. That is the political reality as we prepare to finish our business at the end of this week and go off for our summer break. That is what people in the Skellig Star direct provision centre are facing. Members of this House might sigh at that but that is the reality being faced by those people. It is an absolute disgrace and a shame that we would even consider going into a summer break before a Minister has come into this House to address what the Government intends to do. I do not care whether it is the Minister for Justice and Equality or the Minister, Deputy O'Gorman.Before the end of business today, I would like to hear that a Minister will come before this House to outline the actions the Government will take to close that centre. I would also like an update on the measures the Government is taking to end the direct provision system.

I do not seek to divide the House, but I want to put down a marker. If there is no change to the schedule to bring a Minister to the House to address this issue, I will propose an amendment to the Order of Business for tomorrow and for Friday if needs be, given that they are the only days available. I am sure Senator Hoey will consider seconding that amendment. We need to hear the Government's response to this very serious and dire situation which has arisen within weeks of the centre's opening. Things were bad enough before people had to go to the extreme of beginning a hunger strike. More than a quarter of residents in that centre tested positive for Covid-19 because of the lack of space available. The latter is endemic within the direct provision system. There is a duty on all of us not to sigh or roll our eyes when this serious matter is mentioned but to act and put pressure on the Government to do something to save the people in the Skellig Star.


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