February 4th

Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, and Ombudsman Peter Tyndall have both welcomed the Minister for Justice and Equality’s commitment in principle to allowing asylum seekers living in Direct Provision have their complaints independently examined by their respective Offices.

The commitment, which is subject to legal advice from the Attorney General, would implement the recommendations of a 2015 Working Group report: ‘Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers’.  Among the recommendations made by the Working Group, which was chaired by Dr Bryan McMahon, are that the remits of the Ombudsman and of the Ombudsman for Children should be extended to include complaints relating to:

  • services provided to residents of Direct Provision centres, and
  • transfer decisions following a breach of the House Rules.

The Working Group also recommended that “recourse to the two Offices should be available to a complainant who is dissatisfied with the final outcome of the RIA complaints procedure”. (Working Group Report, 4.135)

Peter Tyndall (Ombudsman) said:

“This represents a major step forward in bringing independent oversight to this area. We are delighted that the Minister for Justice and Equality has agreed in principle to make arrangements for those in direct provision accommodation to have access to our Offices.  We would like to thank the Minister and her Department’s officials for their support and look forward to continuing to work constructively with the Department in putting suitable arrangements in place”.

Dr Niall Muldoon (Ombudsman for Children) said:

“Today, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its concluding observations on Ireland’s progress in recent years towards implementing its obligations to children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among the issues that the Committee has voiced concerns about is the situation of children living in Direct Provision centres. The Committee’s corresponding recommendations in this regard include that the State should consider amending the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 so that my Office can investigate ‘complaints from children in a refugee, asylum-seeking and/or irregular migration situation’.”

“Taking into account the UN Committee’s recommendation, I warmly welcome Minister Fitzgerald’s commitment in principle to implementing the recommendations of the Working Group in relation to my Office’s complaints-handling remit. Implementation of these recommendations will give children living in Direct Provision the same access to my Office as other children living in Ireland. This will enable my Office to make a constructive contribution to the overall welfare of children living in Direct Provision accommodation. My Office looks forward to progressing this important issue with the Department of Justice and Equality.”

Issued jointly by the Ombudsman for Children and the Office of the Ombudsman

END

Note for Editors: 

The Office of the Ombudsman is an independent and impartial office that examines complaints from the public about most public services including those delivered by:

  • Government Departments
  • Local Authorities
  • HSE, including public hospitals
  • Public and Private Nursing Homes
  • Publically-funded third-level education institutions.

The Ombudsman is Peter Tyndall. 

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office is an independent statutory body with an overall mandate to promote the rights and welfare of children under the age of 18 years living in Ireland. Among the Ombudsman for Children’s core statutory functions is the independent and impartial investigation of complaints made by or on behalf of children in relation to public bodies providing services to or making decisions about children and families as well as organisations providing services on behalf of the State.

The Ombudsman for Children is Dr Niall Muldoon.