Work on Dublin Airport immigration detention centre to begin

Brazil’s foreign ministry raises ‘discontent’ with Irish diplomats over border procedures

Passport control at Dublin Airport. There is currently no dedicated facility in Ireland for holding people the authorities decide should be deported. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Passport control at Dublin Airport. There is currently no dedicated facility in Ireland for holding people the authorities decide should be deported. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Work on a dedicated immigration detention centre at Dublin Airport is due to begin in September, with completion due by July 2018, the Department of Justice has said.

Ireland has faced international criticism after a Brazilian woman, Paloma Aparecida Silva-Carvalho, was stopped at Dublin Airport last week and detained at the Dóchas women’s centre in Mountjoy prison overnight.

There is currently no dedicated facility in Ireland for holding people the authorities decide should be deported, so they can be held in prison if appropriate transport is not accessible immediately.

Ms Carvalho was released from Mountjoy at about 10pm last Wednesday and given permission to stay in Ireland until August 2nd.

A Department of Justice spokesman said it did not comment on individual cases, but when asked about plans for the new detention centre he said contractors were expected on site at Dublin Airport in September to begin work on the facility.

“This involves the refurbishment and fit-out of an existing facility to provide a Garda station, office accommodation and detention facilities. The estimated duration of the work is 10 months,” he said.

‘Modern facility’

However, more than a year ago, in July 2016, the then minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil the “modern detention facility” would be “completed as soon as possible within the next 12 months”.

She said plans for the facility had been drawn up and agreement reached with the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) for the necessary redevelopment work to be carried out.

Asked to explain the delay, the Department of Justice spokesman said the planning, design and any necessary procurement elements were a matter for the OPW and An Garda Síochána, while both organisations, along with the DAA, referred The Irish Times to the department.

International bodies, including the United Nations and the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture (CPT), and Irish-based NGOs have repeatedly criticised Ireland for holding immigration detainees who are not criminals alongside remand and sentenced prisoners.

In September 2015, the Government told the CPT plans were being progressed for the provision of the Dublin Airport facility, “which is expected to be in place in 2016”.

Asked if the initial refusal to allow Ms Carvalho to enter Ireland would be placed on her record and if she would leave Ireland with a “clean” passport, the department spokesman said individual cases were not commented upon.

The news comes as Brazil’s foreign ministry said it had reiterated its call for Irish authorities to hold its citizens denied entry into the State in an “adequate location” while they awaited return to their point of departure.

In a statement to The Irish Times, Brazil’s foreign ministry said that following Ms Carvalho’s detention, the country’s embassy in Dublin had met local immigration officials and “it was reiterated the Brazilian government’s discontent with the sending of those denied entrance to common prisons”.

The statement said the foreign ministry has been monitoring the non-admission of Brazilian citizens at Irish airports and called for those denied entry “be returned as quickly as possible to the airport of origin, or, in cases where this is not immediately possible, that the Brazilian citizens await leaving Ireland in an adequate location”.

As the numbers of Brazilians denied entry into Ireland had increased in recent years the Brazilian embassy in Dublin had sought “explanations and clarifications” over such cases but could not say how many there were in total as Irish authorities were not obliged to notify the embassy when such incidents occurred, the statement said.

The number of Brazilians being denied entry into the State has increased in recent years along with the growing number of Brazilian nationals living in Ireland.