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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020

Policy u-turn means people seeking asylum can now receive election leaflets

However, Human Rights Ireland said that “issues still remain” with the system.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 12.08pm

CANDIDATES IN THIS year’s local and European elections can now canvass, in a limited manner, at asylum centres after a policy u-turn.

Previously politicians were forbidden from canvassing for votes at these direct provision centres.

The management ruled that politicians are not allowed to talk to residents about their issues and concerns, or give them political leaflets as it is a “politically neutral environment”.

However, a circular issued to staff yesterday, posted online by, states that “candidates who call into centres may be allowed to drop off election leaflets” that residents can read if they wish.

“Candidates may, if they wish, place on the leaflets their contact details or details of political meetings outside the centre to which residents can be invited,” it adds.

A circular issued earlier this month had informed centre managers that “party political leaflets, posters or circulars [should not be] displayed or circulated in their centres”.

Liam Thornton of Human Rights Ireland said that issues still remain.

“I would argue that such a blanket ban on allowing asylum seekers receive (if they wish) election candidates”, he wrote, “is a disproportionate violation of freedom of expression as protected under the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003.”

Denise Charlton, the head of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, called for a review of the ban earlier this week, and described today’s announcement as “an important first step”.

“However, the situation remains that this group of voters, who have limited if any access to media, are still being treated differently to everyone else in that they cannot be canvassed or engage with politicians in their residence.”

Originally posted 11.16am

Read: Politicians are not allowed to talk to people seeking asylum in Ireland >

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Nicky Ryan

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