New draft standards for asylum seeker accommodation now under consultation
2018-09-01 14:40:50 -
Immigration
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By Staff Reporter

 

The Department of Justice is undertaking a consultation on draft national standards for accommodation offered to people in the protection process.

In a statement, Justice said the proposed standards, when finalised, would oversee services offered to asylum seekers by service providers working on behalf of Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).

Previously, a Working Group on Standards in Direct Provision, chaired by Judge McMahon, recommended the setting up of a Standards Advisory Group including members of NGOs and representative groups “to ensure that standards in accommodation provided on behalf of the Irish State are suitable for the needs of those seeking Ireland’s protection,” Justice added.

The proposed national standards are aimed at meeting the minimums set out by the European Union in the EASO Guidance on Reception Conditions: Operational Standards and Indicators and Directive 2013, otherwise known as the recast Reception Conditions Directive.

“As drafted, they have taken cognisance of the responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of residents, employees, customers and everyone affected by policies and plans as defined by public sector equality and human rights duty,” Justice said.

Consultation meetings will be held with residents of direct provision centres as well as service providers, organisations and people working with residents. Those with a specialisation in the development of quality standards are encouraged to review the draft standards and submit comments through the online feedback form.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency says the proposed new standards are an opportunity to significantly enhance the accommodation system for asylum-seekers in Ireland.

“As the Government continues to implement the recommendations of the 2015 McMahon report, the creation of a thorough and robust system of formalised standards will raise standards and ensure consistency in the provision of services to people living in direct provision centres,” said Enda O’Neill, head of office with UNHCR Ireland.

“These national standards will be used for the purpose of inspecting all centres and set objective benchmarks for all those working in the area. A companion document will also set out in plain English what the standards mean in practice for residents of accommodation centres so that they are aware of their rights and can make suggestions or complaints without fear of adverse consequences.”

The UNHCR urged the Government to use this opportunity to move forward with the creation of an independent inspectorate, as recommended by the McMahon report, which would encourage more organisations, including not-for-profits, to consider tendering for asylum-seeker accommodation.

“Ireland is unusual among EU member states in that NGOs and civil society organisations do not operate accommodation centres for asylum seekers,” O’Neill added. “As the 2015 McMahon report noted, the potential benefit of the not-for-profit model is that profits are reinvested in the facility rather than paid out to shareholders.”

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