A homeless asylum seeker with a history of mental health difficulties has brought a High Court challenge against the State’s refusal to provide her with accommodation.
The High Court heard that the woman, aged in her 20s and from a Central American country, has been refused a place to stay because she left the Irish Protection Office (IPO) before a taxi arrived to take her to the place where she would be accommodated.
David Leonard BL, instructed by solicitors acting for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said the woman, who cannot communicate in English effectively, left the office after being told that no accommodation was available to her. She had waited there for some time before leaving, it is claimed.
It is claimed that an email sent in early May on behalf of the Minister for Integration, who has responsibility for those seeking international protection, stated that she would not be given accommodation because she left the IPO before the taxi arrived. While the woman is apparently on a “re-accommodation list”, counsel said her situation is precarious.
Over the last number of weeks she has been staying on friends’ sofas, but has also spent nights on the streets. She has no family or close friends in Ireland, the court heard. The woman has a history of mental health issues and has been self-harming. Her condition has been exacerbated due to her homelessness, it is also claimed.
It is claimed that the Minister has no legal power to withdraw the relevant reception conditions where the person leaves the IPO before their taxi arrives.
The woman initially came to Ireland on a student visa, but earlier this year applied for international protection, citing a fear to return to her home country because she claims she has been harmed by and is at risk from a former partner, who has a powerful position in a well-known criminal gang.
As a result of being left homeless the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has brought judicial review proceedings against the Minister, Ireland and the Attorney General.
In her action, she seeks various orders and declarations from the court. These include orders quashing the Minister’s decision of May 3rd last refusing to provide her with housing, and that the Minister be required to provide her with accommodation.
She also seeks various declarations including that the Minister’s failure to provide her with accommodation is unlawful and in breach of her rights under EU law, the Irish Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. She further seeks damages for the breach of her rights.
Her action is one of many brought on behalf of those seeking international protection who were left without accommodation currently before the High Court.
The matter came before Mr Justice Cian Ferriter, who on an ex-parte basis granted the woman’s legal team permission to bring the challenge. The judge noted that while all persons without accommodation are vulnerable, the evidence before the court was to the effect that the applicant is in “a particularly vulnerable situation”.
The matter was adjourned to a date in mid-June.