CRITICISM HAS BEEN levelled at the government over a lack of transparency around deaths of people residing in Direct Provision centres.
Previously, records were released each year about the number and nature of deaths of people seeking international protection in Ireland.
However, the Department of Justice stopped providing the details two years ago.
The calls for less secrecy around the system come after a woman who lived in Direct Provision was buried by the State quietly without her friends being told.
Following the revelations, there have been calls for clarification around how this mistake was made and criticism of a lack of clarity relating to the number of people who have died while living in state-provided accommodation in Ireland. The last known figures were published in 2017.
Sharon Waters of the Irish Refugee Service described the lack of information on deaths and the number of suicides in direct provision accommodation centres as ‘shambolic’ …Waters said many asylum seekers living in the centres go to the refugee service in a ‘very distressed state’ – many self-harming and threatening suicide. ‘The agency takes the approach that it’s not responsible for the people involved, it’s just there to provide them with accommodation and food, but the fact is that these people are highly reliant on RIA [Reception and Integration Agency] and there are a lot of controls on them.’ (Speaking to TheJournal.ie, on 23 August 2013)
The sheer, breath-taking shoddiness of this is hard to exaggerate. Imagine having a duty of care to those under your roof and not even bothering to ascertain how a third of those who died in your care actually died. What’s really at issue here, of course, is an unwillingness to address whether the abysmal living conditions in Direct Provision affected the causes of deaths of these people. (Donal O’Keeffe, ‘Who cares how asylum seekers die?’ The Avondhu, 1 August 2017)
Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said ‘The impact of long delays, lengthy residence in Direct Provision accommodation and the real threat of deportation may well have been a contributory factor in Mr. Landa’s untimely death. It is believed that he is the 49th or 50th person to die in the system of Direct Provision since 2000.’
This rate of infant mortality would not be tolerated in wider society
On 22 January 2015 Thejournal.ie reported that:
’61 People have died in Direct Provision in Ireland since 2002 – 16 of whom were children aged five and under’
The report was based on figures (see tables below) released in a parliamentary answer by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald. Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, speaking in the Seanad, said: ‘This is a shocking figure.’ He criticised the Department and RIA for their ‘failure to collect and put into the public domain in-depth data in relation to health outcomes for pregnant asylum seekers and their children. We have a responsibility and a duty to ask why children between the ages of 0-5 account for a quarter of all deaths of people living in Direct Provision. This rate of infant mortality would not be tolerated in the wider society and it raises fundamental questions about the suitability of Direct Provision for women and children.’ said Ó Clochartaigh.