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

08 May 2020

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has today contacted the Minister for Equality, Immigration, and Integration David Stanton T.D. about the management of a reported COVID-19 outbreak in the Skellig Star Direct Provision centre in Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry.

It is reported that the Cahersiveen centre has experienced a serious outbreak of COVID-19 with 23 confirmed cases, and that this represents close to a quarter of the residents in the centre.  While it is understood that affected residents have been moved to isolation facilities, the situation has understandably given rise to considerable fears among the remaining residents, and among people in the local area.  The Commission is concerned that conflicting information in the public domain regarding the management of the outbreak is exacerbating these concerns and tensions.

The Commission has therefore asked the Minister to clarify the public health guidance which has been provided to residents and management of the Cahersiveen Direct Provision centre; actions taken by management to support the implementation of that guidance; and to advise what measures are being taken to protect the health and wellbeing of the residents there.  The  Commission is particularly concerned at media reports that residents who may have come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case are facing  restrictions on their movements outside the Centre  that are more onerous than those which apply to the population at large.

With regard to the wider management of clusters in the Direct Provision system, the Commission has also asked the Minister to advise what steps are currently being taken to manage the health and wellbeing of residents of all Direct Provision centres with confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19, including actions to reduce the density of these settings.

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 Stanton that the COVID pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for a new approach to how we provide for those seeking asylum in Ireland.  In its recent letter to party leaders, the Commission emphasised that any incoming government should commit to implementing the recommendation of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to Ireland that it develop an alternative reception model for people seeking asylum, and should take concrete steps to phase out the Direct Provision system.

The Commission also emphasised that, looking ahead, the State must move quickly to put in place a robust independent inspection mechanism to ensure that the new national standards for accommodation offered to people in the international protection process are fully implemented.


For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / (087) 0697095

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Editor’s Note

The Commission’s letter of March 25th to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. in recognition of the unprecedented public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic  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.

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