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JRS Director appointed to Government group

Eugene Quinn, Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland, has been named as one of the people to serve on a Government-appointed working group to examine improvements to the Protection Process and Direct Provision system for asylum-seekers and refugees. The names were announced Tue 14 Oct by Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald and Minister of State Aodhán Ó Riordáin.

The Working group is to start its work shortlly and its task is to identify a range of practical recommendations to Government and ensure that protection applicants are treated with respect and dignity. They are essentially concerned with respecting the dignity and improving the quality of life of applicants for international protection, while their applications for international protection in the State are under investigation.

The establishment of the Working Group arises from the Statement of Government Priorities 2014-2016 and follows on from a round-table consultation on the protection process with non-governmental organisations which was hosted by both Ministers.

The working group is being chaired by retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon. Its membership is drawn from a range of interests in the international protection area including UNHCR, non-governmental organisations, the protectiots community, academia and relevant Government Departments and Offices.

In announcing the Working Group Minister Fitzgerald said, “I am confident that under Judge McMahon’s stewardship the Working Group, given its composition and the varied experience of its membership, will identify a range of practical recommendations to the Government to address the issues that have featured in much of the commentary about the direct provision system in recent times. I would urge everybody with an interest in the area to allow the Group the time to evaluate and consider the wide range of issues involved and the complex policy questions arising. I wish the Working Group well with their work and I very much look forward to receiving their recommendations.”

Minister O Ríordáin added, “As someone who has been quite critical of the Direct Provision system as it currently operates and therefore keen to see it reformed, I am very pleased that the Working Group has now been established and is about to commence its deliberations. We must ensure that protection applicants are treated with dignity and respect while awaiting the outcome of their applications and I am confident that we have assembled a group of people with the necessary expertise to assist the Government to respond effectively to the difficulties experienced by many people while they await a final decision on their applications. I am particularly mindful of the position of families and children and the need to ensure that the facilities we have in place are capable of meeting the needs of families in circumstances where their cases are ongoing for protracted periods.”

Below is a full list of the members of the new working group.

Chairperson
Judge Bryan McMahon (retired)

Ms. Sue Conlan
Chief Executive Officer
Irish Refugee Council

Mr. Eugene Quinn
Director
Jesuit Refugee Service

Ms. Fiona Finn
Chief Executive Officer
NASC (Irish Immigrant Support Centre)

Mr. Greg Straton
Director
SPIRASI

Ms. Tanya Ward
Chief Executive Officer
Children’s Rights Alliance

Ms. Sophie Magennis
Head of Office
UNHCR Ireland

Mr. Reuben Hambakachere
IRC Core Group of Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Dr. Ciara Smyth
Lecturer in International Human Rights and Immigration Law
NUI Galway

Mr. Dan Murphy
Former Chair of the Local Authority Implementation Committee and a former member of the Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Mr. Tim Dalton
Retired Secretary General of Department of Justice

Representatives from relevant Government Departments/Offices will complete the Working Group make-up.