International Protection Office letters to Asylum Seekers during COVID

One of the key inclusions in the Programme for Government is the commitment to ending the Direct Provision programme. While this is a hugely positive development we need to work to improve conditions for those living in the system until such time as it is abolished. In the context of the ongoing pandemic this relates to ending of deportation during this period.

I wrote to Minister McEntee on this matter today:

Dear Minister McEntee,

I am writing to you today in my capacity as TD and Justice spokesperson for the Green Party on the issue of International Protection Office letters being issued to asylum seekers.

It has come to my attention that these letters are still being issued to those in the direct provision system. Some of these letters inform the applicants their leave to remain has been rejected and that they must leave immediately or face a deportation order in the middle a pandemic. After up to five years in the Direct Provision system, asylum seekers are given 5 days to respond, even though HSE guidelines forbid them from travelling.

Given the highlighting of inhumane conditions in direct provision in St Patrick’s Centre in Monaghan this week, and considering the commitment to end direct provision in the Programme for Government, I would request the department to consider a more compassionate response in this matter.

The ongoing global pandemic is also one which must be accounted for. Comparatively a reintroduction of the ban on evictions was recently legislated for when the state was under increased restrictions. I am calling for your department to commit to similar measures barring the aforementioned letters while the state is at level 4 and 5. Indeed reviewing how we operate this system under level 3 may also be appropriate.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue, it would be great if we can bring some positive change on this.

Is mise le meas,

Patrick Costello TD – Dublin South Central