Seanad debates

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Skellig Star Direct Provision Centre and the Future of Direct Provision: Statements

 

10:30 am

Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister for making time to come in. I will talk a little bit about the broader issue of direct provision. As awful as the situation at the Skellig Star centre is, it is simply the outworking of a cruel system. This cruel system will be a stain on the State for years to come. It is a system that belittles and demeans residents.I will give an example of the experience in direct provision that I have come to know about through my work and volunteering with Homeless Period Ireland. One woman who is incontinent was offered a bucket by the management of the centre. She had to depend on donations from Homeless Period Ireland. She is not alone. Many women and girls in direct provision rely on donations of period products to get through from month to month. When a Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, of the previous Government instructed direct provision centres to provide period products, in some centres the cheapest products were sought by managers. They were brands I have never seen in any supermarket in the country in my 44 years. That is what happens when a service of this nature is run for profit. Residents become cash cows and there is water rationing. There is cheap food and in some cases there was no hot food option in certain centres. During the summer, people were offered cold salads. There is broken heating, as was the case with the Skellig Star in the cold months at the start of the lockdown.

I commend the residents of the Skellig Star for taking a stand and shining a light on the woeful conditions they are made to endure. The Minister is sincere and I hope she ensures that these people are moved as soon as possible. I look forward to working with the Government in the context of its proposals relating to how we move from a position of for-profit direction provision to a process that will operate on a not-for-profit basis and be both human rights-compliant and a fitting standard for this country.

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