By Reed McLaurin
The recent launch of Timetoact.ie is the latest call for the Government to implement the recommendations listed in the final report of the Working Group on the Protection Process for asylum seekers.
Supported by a number of Irish NGOs, the website urges broad, systematic reform, including but not limited to a rise in the direct provision weekly allowance for €19.10 for adults and €9.60 for children to €38.73 and €29.80 respectively.
The report also calls for Ireland to align with all other EU states by introducing a single procedure to determine protection status within 12 months of application and granting the right to work to applicants whose decision is not made within nine months.
In a joint statement by the six organisations behind Timetoact.ie, Eugene Quinn, national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland warned that the working group report “will not serve its purpose and improve the protection process or enable asylum seekers to live with greater dignity if it is not implemented.”
The website is headed with a banner counting down the days since the report was published, followed by a summary of measures that ministers have committed to enacting, including the International Protection Bill that will make the single procedure law.
Below this is a list of key measures that NGOs say require immediate implementation and advancement, foremost of these being the granting of leave to remain to all persons who have been in the direct provision system for at least five years.
Stephen Ng’ang’a, co-ordinator of the core group of asylum seekers that participated in the working group, highlighted this as the key to releasing those “living in limbo” in the direct provision system, noting that “all that is required is the political courage to act”.
Concern over the Government’s implementation of the report’s recommendations began immediately after Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced its publication.
Nasc chief executive Fiona Finn described the minister’s 30 June speech as “profoundly disappointing” because she characterised the report as “‘food for thought’ instead of announcing a comprehensive implementation plan.”
The 16 July announcement of a task force established “to report back to Government on key aspects of the report … by 30 September” last was met with similar discontent.
According to Minister Fitzgerald, the task force – chaired by Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin – will also “consider the issues involved in the successful transition” of those who “reside in direct provision centres despite having been granted protection status or leave to remain”.
However, Finn branded the task force as “another cynical exercise by this Government to keep asylum seekers and those who advocate on their behalf quiet while they kicked this issue down the road.”