Judge Bryan McMahon has called for a “courageous gesture” that would give a “one-off ”, once in a lifetime, amnesty for people who have been seeking asylum in Ireland for five years or more.
Ireland’s system of Direct Provision was introduced as an “emergency measure” in 1999, by 2002 there were almost 12,000 applications for asylum but by start of 2014, there were 4,360 people in direct provision, with more than 3,000 people in the system for two or more years.
More than 1,600 people have spent five or more years in direct provision which has been labeled “inhuman and degrading” in legal challenges and has made fortunes for the owners of private companies running the centres.
Judge Bryan McMahon said that there were about 3,000 asylum seekers who had been in Ireland’s infamous direct provision system for at least five years.
He added that the government should give them citizenship in a gesture of goodwill in line with the ideology of the 1916 Rising.
Mr McMahon chaired the working group that made 173 recommendations about asylum seekers in a report published nearly a year ago.
Speaking on RTE last week he said: “Prominent amongst the items of concern was those who were in direct provision for five years or more.
“The working group suggested that no one should be in the system for five years or more and recommended an intermediate action to sort that out.”
The Irish government had responded to date in a “de facto way” but not with any concrete plan, he said.
“They have assigned extra resources and have reduced the numbers in long term direct provision, but there still is a cohort of people and new applicants are coming into the country all the time.”
He said the gesture of amnesty would free resources to tackle “the backlog of application for asylum seekers. It would help the administration because the resources that are being given to those asylum seekers could be given to new applicants.”