Ireland does not have specialized immigraiotn detention centres, instead using prisons and jails to detain people for immigration reasons. In Irish prisons, the prison administration announced on 13 March 2020 restrictions regarding visits. Visits are only allowed for 15 minutes, once a week and per prisoner. Visitors under the age of 18 and those that have flu symptoms will not be allowed to enter. Also, the Irish Prison Service has been considering the release of certain prisoners to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
On 20 March 2020, the Department of Justice announced that foreign nationals with visas due to expire in the coming weeks, will be able to remain in Ireland until at least 20 May 2020. In addition, Migrants Rights Centre Ireland has reported that the Irish government confirmed that documented or undocumented persons can access healthcare and social welfare services. These services will not share people’s information with the Department of Justice and Equality.
Refugee support groups have warned of a “potentially devastating impact” of an outbreak of Covid-19 in the 39 direct provision centres, that currently house 5,686 people including 1,739 children. Fiona Finn, the chief executive of the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre said: “there are people who are immune-compromised or in other high-risk categories who are sharing rooms with strangers. Being able to take even the minimum precautions of regularly washing your hands with warm water and soap in these conditions can be challenging.” The organisation is also calling on the Minister for Justice to “move the vulnerable out” to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
- The Journal, “Coronavirus: Talks Underway to Reduce the Number of People in Prison in a Controlled Manner,” 13 March 2020, https://www.thejournal.ie/prisons-ireland-coronavirus-5046229-Mar2020/
- S. Pollak, “Coronavirus: Immigration Permits to be Extended Temporarily”, The Irish Times, 20 March 2020, www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/coronavirus-immigration-permits-to-be-extended-temporarily-1.4208301#.Xnh4HeM_D-A.twitter
- Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (@MigrantrightsIr), Twitter, https://twitter.com/MigrantRightsIr/status/1241070050796281859
- S. Pollak, “Coronavirus: Outbreaks in Direct Provision Centres Would be Devastating,” The Irish Times, 10 March 2020, https://bit.ly/2JBgz2t
- F. Hurley, “Nasc Calls on Minister for Justice and Equality to Move the Vulnerable Out,” NASC, 24 March 2020, https://tinyurl.com/wb8teck
- Global Detention Project, “Immigration Detention in Ireland,” https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/ireland