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Dáil to debate Ombudsman for Children’s Special Report on Safety and Welfare of Children in Direct Provision

The Ombudsman for Children’s Special Report on the Safety and Welfare of Children in Direct Provision will be debated in the Dáil this evening (Thurs, 30th). The Special Report, the first of its kind ever published by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), was critical of the crisis driven response being shown by Government, which the OCO believes has made the situation worse for children living in Direct Provision.

The Special Report follows an OCO investigation into Direct Provision in 2021, which made a number of recommendations. The Ombudsman for Children is not satisfied with the response to these recommendations and to the contrary, believes progress has stalled or regressed since then. It is hoped that this report will prompt action on behalf of the Government, and encourage a cross departmental approach to support the Department of Children, Equality, Disability Integration and Youth.

The Special Report highlights three specific recommendations from 2021. These include stopping the use of commercial hotels and begin planning for accommodation capacity pressures; put in place a robust quality assurance mechanism for children living in DP; and to assess the vulnerability of children in the international protection process. Despite a commitment from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) in 2021 that all children would receive a vulnerability assessment within 30 days of applying for international protection in Ireland, just 10% of children in this situation have, to date.

Speaking ahead of Thursday evening’s debate, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, said:

“We are really pleased that TDs will debate our Special Report in the Dáil as it signifies how seriously this matter is being taken by our elected representatives. How we treat children who are fleeing war and horrific conditions is a reflection on all of us. It is therefore apt that the issues raised in our report will be discussed in our national parliament.

“The predicament for children living in Direct Provision has gotten worse since we published our investigation in 2021, and with even more pressure on the system children’s safety and welfare is at considerable risk.

“Despite commitments made on our recommendations at the time, we are not satisfied that the response from Government so far has been adequate. It is also still unclear when the updated White Paper will be published by Government and what the associated implementation timeline is for that.

“We all know that the landscape has changed significantly with the outbreak of war in Ukraine. However, inadequate standards in 2021 are still inadequate standards in 2023. We cannot allow, what everyone agreed was not good enough, to become acceptable simply because it is better than tents, or better than nothing.”


Notes to Editor

The motion re Special Report by the OCO is listed for 19.03

Read the OCO’s Special Report on the Safety and Welfare of Children in Direct Provision in full, here: