Published date: 04 Dec 2023
The introduction of the International Protection Child Payment is a non-negotiable in the fight to improve the lives of children living in the Direct Provision system
Today (04.12.23), the Children’s Rights Alliance is escalating its call on government to urgently progress commitments made to children and young people in the White Paper to End Direct Provision as standards continue to plummet.
The call coincides with a conference convened by the Alliance featuring an address by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’ Gorman TD and Chair of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support, Dr Catherine Day.
Introduced in 2021, the White Paper committed to improving the lives of children and families seeking International Protection status through eradicating the current direct provision system by 2024 and establishing a new international protection support system providing accommodation, health, education, income support and other service needs through a human rights approach.
Speaking ahead of the event, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said:
“When the White Paper was first published, we heralded it a gamechanger for children and young people many of whom have been stuck for years in a system that fails to meet their needs. However, three years later, we have seen shamefully slow progress on the commitments to children and young paper set out in this plan and a rapid deterioration of standards under the growing pressure on our accommodation supply. The reality is that today we have children, young people and families living in conditions many of us couldn’t even imagine. There are 3,289 children living in emergency units and this number is growing because of a failure to invest in alternatives.
Despite Minister Roderic O’Gorman securing 4.7 million euros for a new Child Payment for children in DP, it hasn’t been implemented. We’ve had two successive budgets that were supposed to be about children in poverty being supported and yet children in Direct Provision are forgotten again, and again. It’s simply not good enough. They only get €29.10 per week. It’s simply not good enough to deal with every day essentials.
While we acknowledge that the current government is under immense unprecedented pressure due to the significant increase in the number of people seeking international protection in Ireland, children in the direct provision system cannot be left behind.
Income supports are so miniscule that these children inevitably face a childhood severely compromised by poverty. Simple activities most children take for granted like playing sports or going to the cinema with friends are miles out of reach, creating a major barrier to community integration. Many children are washing their hair with bars of soap or eating only cold meals with no nutritional value for months on end as their family has no access to cooking facilities and no income to afford hot food. Education is also severely compromised as it is simply not possible to cover expenses like school fees, uniforms, books, mock exam fees, exam papers and transport all within a budget of less than €30 a week.
The Government needs to move away from hotel and emergency accommodation once and for all and significantly invest in the development of adequate accommodation options that allow children and young people to be in own-door accommodation, a place they feel safe and secure in, where their basic needs can be met. It’s disappointing that it’s failed to make the money available for alternatives. Decisions need to be made and fast. The Government is running out of options,”
concluded Tanya Ward.
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Notes to Editors:
- Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for media interviews.
- A list of panel speakers is available here. Panellists are available for media interviews upon request.
- The White Paper to End Direct Provision is available here.
About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites 150 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL #EndDPConference