A LEADING bishop has warned Ireland can no longer tolerate the conditions imposed on refugees and asylum seekers by the direct provision system.
The Bishop of Cork & Ross, Dr John Buckley (inset), said something urgently had to be done to reform a regime that has kept asylum seekers marginalised.
His comments come as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald awaits a report in the New Year on proposed changes to the controversial direct provision system.
Under the current system, asylum seekers are not allowed to work and must live in designated accommodation centres.
A backlog of cases being assessed has meant that the average wait facing asylum seekers on whether they can stay in Ireland is between five and seven years.
Dr Buckley stressed that asylum seekers should be provided with a speedier decision on their residency status. "What should be done is that asylum seekers should be allowed to work," he said.
"They should also be accommodated in communities instead of in these (isolated) centres."
Dr Buckley personally visited the two major 'direct provision' centres in Cork.