"More Transparency Needed Around Direct Provision Deaths" - Tóibín
Aontú leader and Meath West TD, Peadar Tóibín has reiterated his call for structures to be put in place to enable the documenting and annual reporting on the number of deaths which occur within the direct provision system.
Deputy Tóibín said:
"I understand that an asylum seeker passed away yesterday in a direct provision centre in my county. Despite my best efforts I cannot extract from the Department confirmation of this death. This represents the second death in this particular direct provision centre this year. In response to the death in January, Minister O'Gorman's office wrote to me saying that "as is the case with all such sudden deaths, any investigation of the death is a matter for An Garda Síochána and the local Coroner's Office. The centre management and the IPAS will cooperate fully with these authorities as and when requested".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "Reports today of a second death underscore the need for full transparency around the death rate in the direct provision system. The Minister has previously told me that the government does not record or publish the number of deaths which occur within the system. This is phenomenal. If we look to our past, and the many historical abuses and scandals only coming to light now, we can see the importance of record keeping and transparency. Every time a person dies in direct provision, and every time the opposition asks a question about it, we're told that it is a matter for the Gardaí, the coroner and the Births, Deaths and Marriage Registry. This is truly worrying - the government needs to monitor and record the death rate as a very basic means of ensuring that the human rights of asylum seekers are being upheld. Every evening each TD and Senator are furnished with the daily number of Covid-19 cases and deaths - and yet the government cannot tell us how many people have died in direct provision last year!"
"For this reason I wrote a letter to the Minister, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste a few months ago, calling for an annual report on the death rate in the system. I was very grateful to the 26 other Oireachtas members who signed my letter. All of Aontú's elected representatives signed the letter, along with TD's and Senators from every party except Fine Gael. Our letter described the secrecy around the system as concerning. The Minister wrote back to say that he did not accept the allegations of secrecy. I am today releasing a copy of both the letter that we sent to the government and the response I received from the Minister. I understand that the direct provision may not be around for much longer, but in the interim we need checks and controls in place to ensure that alarm bells can be sounded if the death rate spikes. Counsellor assistance must be provided to the residents of the direct provision centre here in Meath, and I wish to extend my sincere thoughts, prayers and sympathy to the family and friends of the two asylum seekers who have died in my constituency since the start of this year", concluded Deputy Tóibín