Mother and son lose legal challenge over asylum seekers’ status

A mother and son have lost a legal challenge to the direct provision system for asylum seekers.

However, the High Court has declared as unlawful some of the house rules of direct provision refugee centres, including daily signing on, unannounced inspections, and a ban on having guests.

Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh said the mother and son, who have been residents of the Eglinton Centre in Galway since seeking asylum in 2011, had failed to discharge the burden of proof that direct provision, with or without a time limit, breached their human rights because it constituted inhuman or degrading treatment.

The judge also found the €19.10 per week state allowance to adult residents (€9.60 for children) of these centres was not unlawful.

However, he said they had succeeded in their claims that some of the Refugee and Integration Agency house rules, and its complaints handling procedure, were unlawful.

However, the judge said, the claim in relation to direct provision itself was “doomed” — not because the proposition that it breached human rights was wrong, but because they had pursued that claim without presenting oral evidence to the court.

They also did not cross-examine witnesses for the ministers for justice and social protection, against whom the case was taken and who had denied direct provision was harmful, he said.

“The central dispute on the facts was not capable of being resolved in the procedure chosen by the applicants”, he said.

All the reliefs they had sought against the State could have been brought by way of plenary High Court proceedings rather than through the judicial review mechanism they chose.

The judge adjourned an application to amend the mother and son’s case in order to seek nominal damages for inhuman treatment.


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