In 2014 a client of Sinnott Solicitors challenged the Direct Provision system before the High Court. The High Court did not deal with the challenge in its entirety. The decision of the High Court held that a number of the house rules in Direct Provision Hostels were in breach of a person’s rights and in breach of their privacy.
This was by virtue of the fact that the High Court did not deal with a large part of the constitutionality of the system and held in favour of the State because the evidence of the client was presented on affidavit. The case is currently being appealed to the Court of Appeal of Ireland.
Our client is a brave and intelligent lady who could no longer withstand the daily grind of living in a Direct Provision Hostel for such a long number of years. She wants to work and to provide her son with a better life and to have an opportunity to set an example for him and Direct Provision prevents her from setting such an example.
Since taking the High Court challenge, we have received many enquiries from people living in Direct Provision. We have discussed with them the effect that Direct Provision is having on the mental health of those people and their families.
Our clients have told us that they are suffering mentally and in some cases physically because of living in the conditions in the system. Most of our clients complain about the following;
In most cases the delay caused by the State in dealing with our clients’ claims is completely unnecessary and completely unlawful.
There is no reason why our clients should be left in Direct Provision for years on end as that only leads to psychological and psychiatric suffering and severe mental health issues not to mention the financial loss because they are prevented from working.
Our clients complain of a sense of worthlessness because they are not allowed to work as their claims are being decided upon. Our clients are upset because they are unable to provide for their children with €9.10 weekly child allowance and to give them the things that normal children have in comparison.
Our adult clients complain about the allowance of €19.10 per week to live on as it is not enough to survive and to be happy in life. Many of our adult clients feel a sense of uselessness and despair because they are not allowed to work whilst their claims are being processed by the State. In most cases there is a completely unnecessary lengthy delay on the part of the State in dealing with our clients cases.
As most clients already know the State pays millions and millions of euro to private companies who run Direct Provision Hostels throughout the Country.
In 2014 alone the State spent a whopping €53.2million on the Direct Provision system!!!!! This is an unbelievable waste of money.
The money should be spent in dealing with the claims in a much faster and more efficient way and by allowing people who are waiting for their claims to be dealt with, to work and to earn their own money as opposed to being the subject of such an inhumane regime.
It is also well known that there are a number of people with deportation orders who have been left in Direct Provision Hostels for years rather than the State taking any meaningful steps to deport them.
For example in 2014, 21% of residents in Direct Provision had been there for over 7 years. On average clients have been left waiting for their claims to be dealt with for periods of between 3 to 5 years which is completely unacceptable and damaging to their health and to their mental wellbeing.
The principal of Sinnott Solicitors, Carol Sinnott has written extensively on her experience and the damage that she has witnessed to adults, parents, teenagers and children in Direct Provision.
In December 2014 there were 792 families in Direct Provision in the Country.
33% of occupants were children and that figure remains about the same today.
There were about 37% of adult males and 29% of adult females. The condition of Direct Provision Centres and Hostels are completely and utterly unsuitable for families and for adults living there for years on end.
Many of the people that came to us could not take the suffering and delay any longer and they have decided to sue the State for compensation for the damage to their health and for their psychiatric injuries and financial loss as a result of living in direct provision for an unnecessary prolonged period of time.
This is simply a result of the the State having acted unlawfully in not processing their claims in a timely manner which resulted in injuries to their mental and physical health.
People have come to us who are now adults but they had spent considerable periods of time in Direct Provision as children and they have only recently discovered that their long term mental health and well-being has been damaged as a result of their time there. Those people generally developed psychiatric injuries because they were deprived of a normal childhood and the psychological impact of such deprivation has since come to light.
For more on the psychological impact of the direct provision system on children and teenagers, you can read this recent article where Carol Sinnott recounts the experiences of her clients throughout the years.
The Working Group which was set up to examine improvements that should be made to the State’s existing Direct Provision system have acknowledged that the time spent in Direct Provision is damaging and unnecessary.
They have suggested that the time should be no longer than six months but it is too late for that now because many of our clients have already suffered very significant damage because of the institutionalised regime and confined conditions within which they and their families have been forced to live.