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Law for asylum seekers in direct provision; deaths

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, told Mary Lou McDonald (SF, Dublin C)  that there were no plans for Ireland to opt in to the Council Directive 2003/9 governing minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (Dail Eireann, Debates, 27th March 2013, 255).  The directive made provision for asylum seekers to have access to the labour market which was prohibited in Irish law and would be re-prohibited in the new Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill.  Extending the right to work would have a profoundly negative impact on application numbers (when it had been provided in July 1999, there was a threefold increase in applications) and any change had to take account of the large numbers of unemployed already.

Asked by her about deaths in direct provision, the minister provided an annualized table for 2005-2012 showing that 39 people resident in direct provision had died (Dail Eireann, Debates, 27th March 2013, 255-6).  Although they were tragic, it should be seen in the context of the 50,000 people who had passed through direct provision in 12 years.  In most cases, the actual deaths would have taken place outside direct provision and in hospitals.  If the health service or coroner had raised an issue relating to direct accommodation – ‘and this never happened’ – then the Reception and Integration Agency would have responded.  Most deaths ranged from cancers, to heart conditions, traffic accidents, to cot deaths and still births and only one can be said with certainty to be suicide, in hospital, important to say granted previous misinterpretations of the data.