Fine Gael's Collins wants asylum process changed
LAWS governing the asylum seeking process are "outdated" according to a Millstreet-based TD.
Fine Gael Deputy Aine Collins' comments in the Dáil came last week, as The Corkman revealed that inspectors of the Drishane Castle direct provision centre had warned management of risks and hazards at the centre.
"Part of the problem is that some people are living in direct provision for an average of three years and eight months, with many living in these conditions for up to seven years. Initially it was envisaged that they would only be living in direct provision for six months," Deputy Collins told the Dáil.
"The legislation governing asylum is outdated and there appear to be many avenues to delay decisions for asylum seekers," she added.
Deputy Collins said that children have spent their lives in the centres, and that one third of the 4,600 people in direct provision are children.
"The issue is about the time that people are in these centres. The old idea was that they would only be there for six months. It was to be a stop-gap to get them to a safe place when they arrived here quickly. It is about seeing how we can process their rights as quickly as possible," she said.
"There is no way it should take between seven and nine years. That is a lifetime for a small child born here or who has come here, whatever the case may be.
"We must go back to the legislation process to determine how to change it and ensure the loopholes currently in place and used are closed down - people are going back to court and delaying the process - in order that these people can be brought into a proper and normal environment where they can rear their children.
"The major issue is how quickly we can change the existing status and make the system far more efficient," she said.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the staff at his Department are treating failings within the direct provision system that have been outlined in media the "with the utmost seriousness."
Minister Shatter said the system was not ideal but "is intended for those who arrive in the State seeking international protection and who are otherwise destitute."
"I freely admit that the system has its faults but it is misleading to characterise our treatment of asylum seekers as being akin to that meted out to past residents of industrial schools or Magdalene Laundries," Minister Shatter said.