Children and Families Key Focus in Scrutiny of Irish International Protection Measures

The Government’s restrictions on families of refugees in Ireland eligible for re-unification with their loved ones, and the threats facing unaccompanied migrant children, will put in the spotlight tomorrow (February 1st) by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) at an international event entitled “Ireland’s Response to the Global Refugee and Migration Crisis: From International Protection to National Integration”

The international event will specifically examine the State’s application of the International Protection Act (2015), which came into force in January 2017, and aims to bring a more unified approach to asylum applications. While an approach which could cut delays has been welcomed, the Commission remains concerned over restrictions which see family members separated, and has challenged the State to ensure the provision of necessary resources to support community integration.

In her speech, Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will call on the State to take a clear international leadership role on the rights of child refugees, and to speak out for human rights and the equality of treatment of refugees at a European and global level.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald will provide the keynote address on how Ireland can move beyond humanitarian support to the national integration of refugees and migrants. While Ireland’s UN Ambassador, David Donoghue who co-chaired the landmark 2016 UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants, will speak directly to Ireland’s role in supporting global protections for refugees and migrants.

With the majority of the refugees due to arrive in Ireland directly from refugee camps in Greece, the event will also hear the expert analysis of the Greek Ombudsman for Children, George Moschos on how Ireland must focus on human rights standards for those in emergency situations. While combatting racial discrimination against refugee and migrant communities here in Ireland will be addressed by the Chairperson of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Anastasia Crickley.

The Minister for Justice and Equality referred the General Scheme of the original International Protection Bill to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in July 2015, to request that the Commission would, under its statutory role, consider the human rights and equality implications of the draft legislation. While several of its recommendations were taken up, the Commission retains specific concerns over family reunification restrictions, the protection of migrant children, and supports for community integration, which will be outlined in this event.

In her address Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will state:

“Ireland has a laudable record in promoting and protecting human rights on the global stage, the current difficulties presents an opportunity for Ireland to show the same moral leadership, and to arrest the disturbing and growing trend of regression from fundamental human rights values.

“According to Europol, at least 10,000 unaccompanied children have disappeared in Europe since arriving from conflict regions such as Syria. Among other things, what the images of Alan Kurdi and Omran Daqneesh do is to emphasise the vulnerability of children and the stark reality that they are entirely reliant on others for support.

“Ireland can be a leader- drawing on the significant reforms introduced here – to ensure better protection and care in particular for separated children.”


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Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,
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Editor’s Note

The Seminar entitled “Ireland’s Response to the Global Refugee and Migration Crisis: From International Protection to National Integration” takes place on Wednesday 1st February at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Offices.

With the keynote address from Frances Fitzgerald, TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, the seminar will explore how Ireland is now equipped to meet its obligations and to provide support to newly arrived and existing refugees and migrants in our communities.

We will be joined by a range of speakers from the international, domestic and frontline settings to examine how Ireland’s contribution can move beyond humanitarian support towards integration for newly arriving and existing refugee and migrant populations living in Ireland.

Download the full seminar programme here

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was set up on 1 November 2014 as an independent public body to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding across Irish society.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 sets out the functions of the Commission, i.e. to ensure that:

  • there is respect for, and protection of, everyone’s human rights;
  • there is respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
  • a person’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice, discrimination, or neglect;
  • everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to take part in the economic, political, social or cultural life of the State; and
  • people respect each other, respect equality and human rights, and understand the value of diversity within society

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.