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Ireland ‘failing obligation to provide accommodation to asylum seekers’

By Cate Mccurry

May 30, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

There is “overwhelming” evidence that the state is failing in its “clear and undisputed” obligation to provide accommodation to international protection applicants, the High Court has been told.

The court is hearing a case taken by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) against the state over its failure to provide accommodation to people seeking asylum in Ireland.

The IHREC wants the court to make declarations that the state has failed its obligations and is breaching applicants’ rights under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

On December 4th last year, the Government stated that it could no longer offer accommodation to men seeking international protection.


The court was told today that as of May 10th, more than 2,800 people who were entitled to be offered accommodation have not been, nor have they been provided with adequate resources to find their own.

It is the first time that the IHREC has taken legal action in its own name to defend the human rights of others.

Eoin McCullough, counsel for the Commission, said there are four provisions under the charter which are key to the case.

“First, is that the state is under an obligation pursuant to Article 1 of the charter to provide accommodation whether in kind or otherwise,” Mr McCullough said.

“The second is that it is a mandatory obligation. Any lack of resources is not to be relied upon.”

He told the court that while the position of the state in providing accommodation may be difficult, the obligations still must be met.

Mr McCullough said that up until two weeks ago, some 1,015 international protection applicants were still awaiting an offer of accommodation.

He is asking the court to say that the state’s failure to offer accommodation to those who are entitled to it is unlawful.

He said: “I hope to demonstrate that in the presence of a clear and undisputed obligation and in the presence of overwhelming evidence, that it is not being met, (and) it is incumbent on the court to make an order. Anything else would offend rule of law.”

He added that the proposition of the state’s obligations “cannot be in dispute”.

Mr McCullough said that the state failed to provide material reception conditions to asylum seekers, such as housing, food and hygiene facilities.

He said that the state is under an obligation to provide applicants with an adequate standard of living which protects their physical and mental health, and any failure to do so is in breach of the applicants’ rights.

The court was told that the state is under an obligation to provide housing, food and clothing, which can be done so in kind or as allowances or vouchers, as well as the provision of the Daily Expenses Allowance.

The senior counsel said that if the state does not provide physical accommodation, it must be done so through financial allowances.

He added: “Ultimately, the next question is this: Is that obligation met by the state doing two things which is by paying an allowance of €113.80 per week and also entering into agreement with four named charities to provide food and some hygiene facilities.”

Mr McCullough said said the evidence shows that it is not possible to find accommodation for €113.80 per week.

The case continues.


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