Family seeking asylum challenges decision to move them to Mayo

The family were moved from Wicklow to Mayo with one week's notice
Family seeking asylum challenges decision to move them to Mayo

High Court reporters

A family seeking asylum in Ireland has taken High Court proceedings challenging the State’s decision to move them from reception accommodation in Co Wicklow to a hotel in Co Mayo with just one week’s notice.

The court heard the decision to transfer the South African family came without proper warning, was “irrational” and breached their rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a sworn statement, the mother said her family, which includes young children, has been treated in an “inhumane manner”.

The family, which cannot be named, settled into life in Co Wicklow after arriving in Ireland in July, she said. The children made friends at their local schools and joined social and sporting activities.

The children have been “traumatised” by the 200km move and are not yet enrolled in local schools, the mother said.

Her family is now based in a roofless cubicle within the Mayo hotel’s gymnasium, which is “freezing cold”, the woman said. They have very little privacy when washing and drying, and they have to walk around in their towels to access showers, she added.

She, her husband and their children are seeking international protection due to “extreme violence” levelled against them in South Africa, she claimed.

Her family was unable to seek effective state protection from the police in their own country and made the “extremely difficult” decision to seek asylum abroad, she said.

'More suitable accommodation'

The family was initially placed in a shared room in the Wicklow hotel with a large number of other people and were later given a room to themselves at the same centre, she said.

While they were based in this shared room, the family indicated on a form that they wished to be relocated to alternative accommodation. However, once they were provided with their own room the family’s position changed, she said.

On October 13th, the family was “shocked” to receive a letter from the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS), notifying them they would be moved to “more suitable accommodation”.

The woman claims the decision makers did not address her family’s submissions objecting to the move. She said they were then given two days’ notice before they were transported on October 19th to their new accommodation in Co Mayo.

She said it is difficult to understand why her family and “countless other families” were moved from the Wicklow hotel.

Tony McGillicuddy SC said “no regard whatsoever” was had for the situation of the children and their school places. IPAS said it would make an effort to minimise disruption, but the “irrational” move could not have been more disruptive, he added.

The family is seeking an injunction compelling the State defendants to return them to their Wicklow town accommodation.

In the alternative, they want “such action as is necessary and appropriate” that would ensure the children can continue to attend their schools in Wicklow.

The family also wants various declarations, including that the decision to move them was made in breach of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018, which lays down the standards for the reception of international protection applicants.

The family further asks the court to declare that the State parties have failed to properly transpose the EU Directive that underpins the 2018 Regulations.

The case came before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore an ex parte basis on Tuesday. He adjourned the matter until Thursday, after ordering the plaintiffs to notify the defendant state parties of the proceedings.

Their case is against the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Education, Ireland, and the Attorney General.

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