Thursday, 30 July 2020
Skellig Star Direct Provision Centre and the Future of Direct Provision: Statements
I thank Senator Craughwell and the House. I have just two points to make. I will start, of course, by welcoming the Minister.
Senator Byrne spoke of the disconnect between the public health response to an outbreak in a meat factory and the response to an outbreak in a direct provision centre, which was a complete failure by comparison. It must be made clear that, once people are in our State and under our protection, they must be given the same level of care and protection as the citizens of our State.
Today is World Day against Trafficking in Persons. There is, of course, a connection between this issue and our direct provision system. There are people in direct provision who have suffered horrendous abuse. Some are victims of trafficking and some have tremendous psychiatric and mental health needs. In fact, persons seeking asylum in the State who live in direct provision centres have particular mental health needs that are not being addressed. I brought this up in a motion in the Seanad last year. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has found that depression and mental health problems are five times more common among asylum seekers in direct provision that in Irish society generally. We must provide adequate supports for psychiatric care and mental health care for persons in direct provision.
We must also note our diminishing status as a country that challenges and fights the terrible problem of modern-day slavery and human trafficking, according to the US State Department's trafficking in persons report. We are now in the tier 2 watchlist category along with states like Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kazakhstan. Our ambition on paper to combatting human trafficking is not being matched by equivalent positive outcomes or allocation of resources. We have had no convictions for trafficking since 2013. We must pay attention to this issue. I look forward to discussing this with the Minister on future occasions.