A new dedicated immigration facility at Dublin Airport is due to open in the coming months.
The centre, the country’s first secure facility for immigrant detainees, has been planned since early 2017.
The State has been criticised over many years, both by international and domestic prison inspection bodies, for housing immigrant detainees in prison.
Those detained include people who have been refused leave to land in the State and others being deported.
Male detainees are held at Cloverhill Prison and female ones are held in Dochas.
The new immigration facility is located in the Transaer House building at Dublin Airport and is under the control of the Garda National Immigration Bureau. A new garda station, covering Dublin Airport, will also be co-located in the same building.
Announced in early 2017, the facility was due to be completed around last August and was then delayed until the end of 2018.
The Garda Commissioner’s monthly report for May said the facility was handed over to it last April and was expected to open in June.
Following queries from the Irish Examiner, Garda HQ said the facility was expected to open in the “coming months”.
A statement said:
The Garda National Immigration Bureau facility within the building comprises accommodation for immigration personnel, including management personnel, an administration office, a conference/meeting room and 2 detention rooms.
It said the garda station custody suite included four cells, accessible prisoner shower / WC facilities, a doctor’s room, solicitor's consultation room and an interview room.
Fiona Finn, CEO of migrants' rights centre Nasc, said:
“It would be our view that detention should only be used as measure of last resort and any facility used to detain those refused permission to land should, once all other options have been exhausted, adhere to basic human rights standards for detained persons such as, the right to appropriate legal advice, right not to be held incommunicado, proper access to the asylum process, if appropriate, and a clear written notification of the reasons for detention and a right to a proper appeals process.”
She said there also needed to be “clear oversight and accountability measures”.
Brian Killoran, CEO, Immigrant Council of Ireland, said:
“While the establishment of an immigration detention facility will decrease the figures of immigrants detained in prisons (which should never happen), we are very concerned that simply having a detention centre available will introduce the risk of increasing the numbers of migrants detained overall."
He said that, at a minimum, detainees should be provided with information in a language that they understand regarding the reasons for detention and their rights while in detention.
He said safeguards must be put in place to detect possible instances of trafficking.
Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Executive Director of The Irish Penal Reform Trust said: “Immigration detainees should not be held in any prison because they have not been charged with a criminal offence, and this situation is made worse by detaining people in crowded prison conditions.
It is absolutely critical that the Government invests resources in independent oversight and inspections of all places of detention, including the new immigration detention facility.
"Proposals to extend the Inspector of Prisons’ remit to include the facility will be completely meaningless unless the office is properly resourced.”