Doras very concerned at proposed changes Government has announced that will affect families and individuals seeking asylum in the State

March 28, 2024
girl writing asylum

Doras, a Limerick-based NGO that protects and promotes the rights of migrants and refuges in Ireland, have expressed concerns at aspects of yesterday’s announcements from Government on their accommodation strategy for international protection applicants and the opt-in to measures of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum.

John Lannon, Doras’ CEO, said, “The announcements from government raise more questions than they answer. While we welcome the fact that the government is finally working on a strategy to meet its obligations to provide accommodation for international protection applicants, the announcement is short on detail, provides no commitment on capital funding, and offers no reassurance that the current failure to provide accommodation will be addressed in the short term.”

The strategy refers to the guiding principles of the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision, but it is disappointing to see that the commitment given to providing international protection applicants with appropriate own-door accommodation in the community after an initial period in a reception centre are gone.

He continued, “Of immediate concern is that there are currently over 1,400 individuals without accommodation. It is shocking to see the government’s statement refer to an increasing likelihood that women and children may find themselves without accommodation in the coming weeks. The proposed timeframe for the delivery of 14,000 State-owned beds by 2028 will do little to address this immediate shortfall in accommodation.”

“Right now, the government is failing in its obligations to provide for the basic needs of people seeking protection in Ireland. There is an urgent need to bring more accommodation on stream in the coming months.”

In a further announcement, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said Ireland will fully repeal the International Protection Act 2015 and adopt the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. This raises serious concerns that the Government will effectively undermine the internationally recognised human right to seek asylum and to not return someone to harm.

Doras’ CEO said, “Speedy processing of applications needs to be balanced with the rights people have to a fair assessment of their application. Accelerated procedures involving short timeframes for interviews, limited or no access to legal advice, and inadequate assessments of their vulnerability are all problematic.

“If Ireland goes down the route suggested by the Minister, people who travelled through so-called ‘safe countries’ before reaching Europe, could have their claim rejected without proper assessment of the individual persecution they face. The risk of people being returned to a country where they may face human rights abuses is grave.”

Of further concern is the proposed use of dedicated accommodation for specific categories of people. Lannon continues, “This could amount to de facto immigration detention, which combined with limited access to legal assistance, would contravene international law.”