The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has argued that Ireland is currently “in clear breach” of its international obligations to newly arrived applicants for international protection.
The human-rights body expressed its concerns in a letter written today (27 January) to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman.
The commission said that it was “deeply concerned” by a communication from the department, which warned newly arriving applicants who presented as single people without children that they would not be provided with accommodation.
“The commission believes that this is a clear breach of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 (SI No. 230/2018), and the related European directive,” it stated.
It has called on the minister to reverse this decision, and on the Government to use “all of the powers at its disposal” to address the situation.
“While the legislation does envisage an exceptional situation where housing capacity is temporarily exhausted, it stipulates that, in these cases, and for as short a period as possible, an applicant’s basic needs must still be met.
“However, we believe that these basic needs are not being met in circumstances where no accommodation is provided to new applicants for international protection,” IHREC said.
The organisation added that there might be “further breaches of the law” with respect to the provision of material reception conditions that include food, a daily expense allowance, clothing, and access to healthcare.
‘Not a choice’
IHREC described the current situation as “unacceptable, both legally and morally”, adding that the refusal of shelter rendered some applicants “even more vulnerable to destitution and exploitation”.
The commission also called on the Government to address the issue of standards in accommodation for applicants for international protection and temporary protection.
“Accommodating people who seek asylum into Ireland is not a choice; it is our obligation, one that we have signed up to,” stated Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney.