Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Anne Rabbitte and Spokesperson on Equality & Integration Fiona O’Loughlin have written to Minister Katherine Zappone requesting a meeting to discuss the actions which need to be taken to address the issues of child homelessness and Direct Provision. The TDs have expressed concern about the health and wellbeing of children forced to live in hotels or Direct Provision centers. Deputy Rabbitte explained, “The reality of the situation is that children’s fundamental human rights are being breached by forcing them to live in hotels or Direct Provision centers for extended periods of time.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out certain provisions such as the right to play and to enjoy a standard of living that is “adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development”. “Children whose families are trapped in homelessness and who live in hotels, in some cases for years on end, could be forced to share a room with their parents or older siblings, and have no safe place to play”. Deputy O’Loughlin added, “Recent reports from a direct provision center in County Clare about a mother being denied bread and milk for her sick child were extremely upsetting, and only serve to highlight problems with the system. It’s clear that the Direct Provision setting is not conducive to a quality lifestyle for parents and their children.
“There are more than 5,000 children who are either homeless or living in Direct Provision, often for long periods during their formative years. The Special Rapporteur on Child Protection Dr Geoffrey Shannon raised serious concerns regarding child protection issues within Direct Provision centers, particularly relating to the sharing of rooms. “We have asked Minister Zappone to meet with us at the earliest possible opportunity so that we can discuss these issues and examine how best to address them”.