Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Bairbre de Brún travels to Clover Hill prison on fact-finding mission regarding detention of immigrants

16 September, 2005

le people, the right to information and legal advice, and the access that those detained have to legal services, NGOs specialising in asylum and immigration issues and other visitors.

"Today's visit follows one I made in June to Lampedusa, Italy when I travelled with a cross-country delegation of MEPs and saw for myself the conditions in which detainees were held. Indeed, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) had criticised the centre and said that they had concerns regarding the procedures applied to immigrants and the physical conditions in which they were held.

"People detained in Clover Hill are clearly held in better conditions than detainees in many other European countries, and rightly so. However, people detained only in relation to immigration should not be held in prison at all.

"Many immigrants come to Ireland in the hope of finding sanctuary from war, famine or extreme poverty, only to find themselves detained in prison upon their arrival to Ireland, having committed no crimes. The anguished response is often to ask "why am I in prison? I am not a criminal". Their detention can have serious negative consequences for their mental and physical well-being and can often add to existing trauma and mental health problems.

"Following today's visit to Clover Hill to gather as much information as possible regarding the procedures and treatment of third county nationals in Irish jails, I plan to raise this issue at both a national and European level.

"I also intend to look at the situation in the North, where some of my party colleagues have raised concerns. For example, female immigrants are held in Hydebank Young Offenders Centre with reports of small cells which do not contain toilets, a poor quality of food and restricted access to telephone facilities - in short, of immigrants left with little rights or dignity." ENDS

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