Afghan asylum seeker takes High Court case after being left homeless

Man seeks urgent injunction forcing State to provide him with accommodation

An Afghan asylum seeker, who has been homeless since arriving in Ireland late last month due to a lack of available emergency accommodation, claims his rights are being breached.

The man, who cannot be identified, claims he has been verbally and physically attacked, robbed and racially abused while sleeping rough. When he applied for international protection on January 30th, he claims, he was given a €25 voucher, which he spent on blankets and a pillow. He says he has been using various homeless services to source food.

Concerned about his health in cold conditions, the man says he has repeatedly asked the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) to provide him with shelter. He claims IPAS told him there is a national shortage of housing for international protection applicants, particularly single males. He says he was told he would be contacted when housing became available, but no timeline for this was given.

The man, who worked as a shopkeeper, says he left Afghanistan after getting into trouble with the Taliban. He claims an incident near his shop led to some Taliban fighters being killed by police and that he was subsequently sent death threats by the Islamic fundamentalist group.


At the High Court on Tuesday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said the man’s circumstances are “pretty dire, to say the least”.

He asked lawyers for the Minister for Integration if it was not “entirely foreseeable” that the State would face an application such as this in circumstances where the refugee processing centre in Citywest has ceased taking new arrivals.

David Conlan Smyth SC, for the Minister, said he did not believe the court application came as a surprise. He said the State is taking the case “very seriously” but that the current pressures on the international protection accommodation system are “enormous and unprecedented”.

Since Citywest stopped taking new arrivals on January 19th, all families and single women seeking international protection have been accommodated, as have 119 single males, he said. Other single males are being housed on a chronological basis when places arise, he said, but procurement of suitable facilities is currently an issue.

Mr Conlan Smyth said that if the court was to grant a mandatory injunction forcing the State to provide this applicant with accommodation, he would be housed ahead of other single males who arrived before him.

IPAS is accommodating 19,104 people at the moment compared to 8,500 people this time last year, he said. This figure did not include some 54,000 Ukrainians who have also been accommodated.

Mr Conlan Smyth requested an adjournment of the injunction hearing until Monday, which Mr Justice Meenan was not prepared to give. He scheduled the hearing for Friday.

The man’s barrister, Colm O’Dwyer SC, with Colin Smith BL instructed by the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, said his team has contacted charities with the hopes of sourcing other accommodation but these all seemed to be full.

Mr O’Dwyer said he understood the difficulties the Minister is facing, but his client is seeking the “most basic level of accommodation: something that gets him off the streets”.

In his judicial review action against the Minister, the man is asking the court to grant an urgent mandatory injunction forcing the State to provide him with accommodation. He also wants declarations that the Minister’s failure to provide him with material reception conditions, including accommodation, in line with the Reception Conditions Regulations of 2018 and an EU directive, is unlawful.

The man claims he is severely prejudiced by the ongoing delay to housing him, which he says is his legal right under Irish and EU law. He also claims the Minister has breached his right to a dignified standard of living as an asylum seeker under the 2018 Regulations and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

The man says he left Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, crossing various eastern European countries before travelling to France in a container. He says he spent three months in Calais before being transported to Ireland in another container.

The case will return to the High Court on Friday.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter