Statement from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission In Respect of Direct Provision

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has written to new Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee TD to voice its ongoing concerns for the safety and well-being of people in the Direct Provision system around COVID-19.

In the wake of recent COVID-19 clusters affecting some centres, the Commission has asked the Minister to set out measures being taken to protect the health and wellbeing of residents, and to address concerns being raised by residents and civil society organisations about the inability of those in shared accommodation to effectively self-isolate.

The Commission has also sought information from the Department of Justice on how the needs of families in direct provision are being identified and communicated to the Department for Education for specific consideration ahead of a return to schooling.

In May of this year, the Commission contacted the Minister for Equality, Immigration, and Integration David Stanton T.D. about concerns surrounding the management of COVID-19 care for residents of the Skellig Star direct provision centre in Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry.

While actions to protect the immediate health and wellbeing of the residents must be the overriding concern at this time, the Commission has also strongly emphasised to Minister McEntee that the COVID pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for a new approach to how we provide for those seeking asylum in Ireland.

People in direct provision are at increased risk due to COVID-19 because they have been placed by the State in a situation, which does not empower them as individuals and families to protect themselves in the same way as the general population.

It is the Commission’s strongly held view, shared by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that Ireland needs to take steps to phase out the Direct Provision system, and replace it with an alternative model for people seeking asylum. Toward this end the Commission has contributed directly to the work of the Expert Group on Direct Provision Chaired by Dr Catherine Day, which is due to make its report shortly.



For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / (087) 0697095

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Editor’s Note

The Commission statement of May 2020 around conditions at the Skellig Star Hostel in Caherciveen, Co. Kerry is available at the following link:

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.