Social Democrats say it would not be fair to comment on Ellie Kisyombe asylum claim

Councillor alleges details of candidate’s claim ‘unfairly used’

Local election candidate Ellie Kisyombe. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Local election candidate Ellie Kisyombe. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times


The Social Democrats said it would not be fair to comment on the asylum claim of its local election candidate Ellie Kisyombe, after a Sunday newspaper alleged that she had given inaccurate information about her background.

An article, published in yesterday’s Sunday Times, alleged that Ms Kisyombe, who is seeking a place on Dublin City Council in the May election, had arrived in Ireland later than she had stated in media interviews.

Ms Kisyombe, who yesterday refused to comment on the article, is originally from Malawi and has spoken of her experience of living in the direct provision system for much of the last decade.

In a recent interview with The Irish Times, Ms Kisyombe said direct provision “is a system that controls you in every sense of human life.

“Your life is being run basically with a remote control. You’re being told what to do. You wake up in the bed you’ve been given. You don’t own the space you’re in. Your life is managed by the centre administration.

“Even after almost a decade here, I’m a nobody. I’m still somebody that cannot have a say about my life. I’m on €21.60 a week, hoping that, by March, we’ll be getting €38. I’m in the old system, so I’m not allowed to work, I’m not allowed to go to the school.”

A spokeswoman for the Social Democrats said that Ms Kisyombe was “living legally in Ireland while her claim is being processed” and that it would “not be fair or appropriate for the Social Democrats to comment on her case”.

“Ellie has been active in highlighting the difficulties faced by people living in direct provision over the last number of years,” the spokeswoman said.

‘Misappropriated details’

Gary Gannon, a Social Democrat member of Dublin City Council, alleged that details of Ms Kisyombe’s asylum claim had been “misappropriated and unfairly used” and called on Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to investigate how the information became available.

“I think the Minister for Justice has an obligation to protect asylum seekers; clearly something has broken down there,” said Mr Gannon, who has supported Ms Kisyombe in her local election campaign.

“This is potentially the first time a local election candidate has made a front page of a national Sunday newspaper.”

A Department of Justice spokesman said the department took its responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, 2018, and the International Protection Act, 2015, “extremely seriously”.

“For reasons of confidentiality, the department cannot comment in relation to individual immigration or international-protection-related cases,” he said.