Commission Welcomes Important Ruling in International Protection Case

High Court finds that State failed in duty to provide basic needs to man seeking asylum

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) welcomes the High Court ruling made today in a judicial review case concerning the human rights of people arriving in the State seeking International Protection.

The person in the case, an Afghan national, sought International Protection in Ireland, but he was not provided with accommodation, nor other basic needs (including food or hygiene facilities) on his arrival here. He was told that accommodation would be provided once space became available. He was given a supermarket voucher to the value of €28. As a result, he lived on the streets for three weeks without State support.

The Commission joined this case as amicus curiae (or ‘friend of the court’) as it raised important questions about the duty of the State towards International Protection applicants. Under the EU (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018, this duty includes the provision of material reception conditions, including accommodation, food and basic hygiene facilities.

The Commission argued that failure to provide for the basic needs for those seeking International Protection amounts to a breach of EU law, including the right to dignity under Article 1 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, and that current pressures on accommodation resources in Ireland do not relieve the State of those obligations.

In its judgment, delivered today, the High Court issued Declarations stating that the Minister’s failure to provide International Protection applicants with material reception conditions was unlawful, and that amounted to a breach of the applicant’s right to dignity under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Referencing EU law, as well as previous rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU, Mr. Justice Meenan stated that:

“….even if accommodation facilities are overloaded alternative steps should be taken by the Minister which may include giving “financial allowances” or referring persons, such as the applicant, to ‘bodies within the general public assistance system’ who will provide what the Minister does not.”

The Judge further stated that:

“Even though the Minister is making efforts to secure accommodation this does not absolve him of his obligations under the Regulations. Clearly, giving the applicant a €28 voucher for Dunnes Stores and the addresses of private charities does not come close to what is required.”

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said:

“We welcome this important ruling from the High Court, not least for this man, – whose first experience of seeking protection in our country saw him sleeping in its streets, in some of the coldest months. 

We hope that this judgment serves as a reminder to the State that fulfilling its duty towards International Protection applicants, who are by definition some of the most vulnerable people in our society, is not optional, but obligatory.”


For further information, please contact:
Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,
01 852 9641 / 087 468 7760
Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

The function of amicus curiae is an important legal power of the Commission. It allows us to address the court in a non-partisan role on issues concerning human rights and equality that have wider consequences for society in general. Recently, we have used this power to assist the courts on various human rights and equality issues in the public interest, including on the right to a fair trial, immigration, the use of search warrants and anti-social behaviour orders.

The full written submissions made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as Amicus Curiae can be read here:

Amicus Curiae submission on The High Court Judicial Review in the matter of Directive 2013/33/EU and the EU Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

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.