UK High Court decision a sad indictment of treatment of asylum seeking children in Ireland

Posted On: 15 August 2013

The High Court of Northern Ireland yesterday (14/8/13) quashed a decision of the UK immigration authorities to return a Sudanese family to the Republic of Ireland where they had previously claimed asylum.  The decision was based on the finding that it would not be in the best interests of the children to be returned to the Direct Provision accommodation system.  In reaching that conclusion, the Court relied upon the Irish Refugee Council report, State Sanctioned Child Poverty and Exclusion.  The judgment is a sad indictment of the treatment of children in the Irish asylum system says the Irish Refugee Council.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, says: “This decision is a sad, but accurate, reflection of a system that is failing to protect the best interests of children.  The reality is that asylum seekers can live independent lives in Northern Ireland, while just a few miles over the border they are forced to live in a state of institutionalised poverty.  Direct Provision simply is not suitable for families and vulnerable people.

“It is interesting that the judge laid emphasis on the absence of the right to work in Ireland and the negative impact this has had on the capacity of both the mother and the eldest child to work in Ireland or in their country of origin in the future.”

The judge noted that there was ample evidence of problems with enforced isolation and poverty and evidence of physical and mental health issues in the Direct Provision system.  He concluded that Ireland falls below the minimum standards for reception conditions accepted across the EU.

The judgment was also highly critical about the lengthy delays and low recognition rate in the Irish system.