Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“Anna achieved 575 points in the leaving certificate, a feat that any family in the country would be proud of, but current rules mean that asylum seekers are treated as international students and must pay a minimum of €10,000 and in some cases as much as €50,000. I strongly criticise the government for allowing a system to propagate where someone who achieves as highly as Anna would be barred from attending college due to a lack of support.
“The government must demonstrate that the asylum process and direct provision centres are not minimum security prisons where we leave people in limbo indefinitely. Children have spent their entire lives in these centres and the sheer lack of compassion shown is preventing them from leading full lives and is depriving them of a future.
“I implore Minister Jan O’Sullivan to urgently re-examine the current model which effectively prohibits people living in Direct Provision centres from attending college. A promise was made last year that children in Direct Provision would be given equal status as Irish students when it came to access to college. A working group devoted to the issue led by Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin recommended the same. Young people like Anna need more than congratulations for academic achievement, they deserve a future.”