Thursday, 2 May 2013

Questions (13)

John Halligan


13. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he intends to replace the direct provision system or put a system in place that would allow asylum seekers the right to work and live independently, which would save the State a considerable amount of money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20697/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Direct Provision system managed by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department remains a key pillar of the State's asylum and immigration system and I have no plans to end it at this time. Rather, my intention is that the factors which lead to delays in the processing of cases are dealt with so that asylum seekers spend as little time as is necessary in that accommodation system.

The Deputy's question wrongly asserts that allowing asylum seekers work and live independently would save the State money. That is not so. There are no cheaper alternatives to the Direct Provision system. A key finding in the 2010 Value for Money Report on the Direct Provision system was that if we were operating a system which facilitated asylum seekers in living independent lives in individual housing with social welfare support and payments, aside from the asylum 'pull factor' it would likely create, far from saving the State money, the cost to the exchequer would be double what is currently paid under the direct provision system.

I do accept that the length of time spent in direct provision and the complexity of the asylum process itself is an issue which needs to be addressed. The accommodation system is inextricably linked to the surrounding asylum process. The revised Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which I intend to re-publish, should substantially simplify and streamline the existing arrangements for asylum, subsidiary protection and leave to remain applications. It will do this by making provision for the establishment of a single application procedure, so that applicants can be provided with a final decision on all aspects of their protection application in a more straight forward and timely fashion.

Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing, I am proposing to introduce new arrangements for the processing of subsidiary protection applications in light of recent judgments in the Superior Courts. My Department, in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, is developing a new legislative and administrative framework for the processing of current and future subsidiary protection applications. This work is being given high priority and applicants will be advised of the new arrangements as soon as possible.