22 March 2018 - Today, the Irish Refugee Council and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) are hosting a conference at the Law Society of Ireland on Ireland’s opt-in to the EU Reception Conditions Directive.

The conference brings together academic experts and practitioners from Ireland and the EU and aims to inform stakeholders about the scope and implications of the Directive for people seeking asylum in Ireland. It is also intended to inform the Government’s implementation of the different elements within the Directive, including detention, access to employment, material reception conditions (i.e. Direct Provision) and early identification and reception of vulnerable applicants including children.

Catherine Woollard, Secretary General of ECRE said,

“Ireland is making a strong and welcome commitment to the humane treatment of asylum-seekers with its decision to opt-in to the EU’s recast Reception Conditions Directive. The Directive sets out legal standards for reception and detention conditions, covering provision of accommodation and an adequate standard of living among other issues. It is thus a real opportunity for reform and improvement of conditions.”

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council,

“The decision to opt-in to the Directive came after the Supreme Court decision on the right to work for people in the asylum process, but the scope of the Directive goes far beyond this.”

“The Directive requires that human dignity and the best interests of the child be applied to all decisions concerning accommodation and support, and that people have the right of appeal against a decision to reduce or withdraw these services. It also requires that vulnerable people with special reception needs, for example minors, survivors of torture, or people who have experienced sexual violence, are identified as soon as possible so that suitable accommodation and supports are provided.”

“In conjunction with the conference today we have also produced a submission which considers these and other issues and sets out a human rights based approach to implementation of the Directive. Ireland has an opportunity to demonstrate best practice in a number of areas, including material reception conditions, family life, and an accessible right to work for people seeking refuge. We hope that the conference today and our submission are a meaningful contribution to this process and will be considered carefully by the State’s implementation group.”

 - ENDS -

  • Conference Agenda and speaker bios
  • Speakers include:
    • Dr Lieneke Slingenberg (Vrije University, Amsterdam)
    • Minos Mouzourakis (European Council on Refugees and Exiles)
    • Dr Ciara Smyth (School of Law, NUI Galway)
    • Enda O’Neill (UNHCR Ireland)
    • Jennifer DeWan (Nasc – the Irish Immigrant Support Centre)
    • Dr Samantha Arnold (European Migration Network, Ireland)
    • Luke Hamilton (Irish Refugee Council, Independent Law Centre)
    • Dr Liam Thornton (School of Law, University College Dublin)
  • IRC Recommendations on the Transposition of the EU recast Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU)
  • Ireland has begun the process of transposing Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection
  • An Implementation Group, membership of which is drawn from across a wide range of Government Departments and services has been established by Government, to oversee the opt-in procedure and the compliance process within the timeframe set by the Commission, which is four months. See Statement of Minister Charlie Flanagan to Seanad Éireann, 23rd January 2018.
  • In terms of labour market access, the Directive provides for access to the labour market for applicants who have not had a first instance decision within nine months of making their application and provided that the delay cannot be attributed to the applicant. In determining the level of access to be provided to applicants, will be cognisant of a number of important factors.
  • The European Council on Refugees and Exiles is a European network of 96 NGOs in 40 European countries. It protects and advances the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced persons. Its diverse membership ranges from large international NGOs with global scope to small organisations of dedicated activists; members work on humanitarian relief, social service provision, legal assistance, litigation, monitoring policy and law, advocacy, and campaigning.