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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 20 November, 2018
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Contract awarded for new immigration unit with detention cells at Dublin Airport

The OPW confirmed its plans for this dedicated unit after criticisms over the case of a Brazilian au pair who was held in prison overnight.

Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

THE CONTRACT FOR works at the new dedicated immigration unit at Dublin Airport has been awarded and the renovation work is due to begin shortly.

Last year the Office of Public Works (OPW) said it planned to turn an existing area into a dedicated immigration centre which would include detention facilities.

The news followed complaints by a Brazilian au pair who was denied entry at Dublin Airport and detained in Mountjoy Prison’s Dóchas Centre overnight.

24-year-old Paloma Aparezida Silva-Carvalho had returned to visit the family she had worked for and officials queried why she was back to Ireland so soon, having only been away for nine months.

The family she worked for went public with the story in a bid to get the young woman out of prison and after one night in a cell she was released and granted leave to remain in Ireland for ten days.

At the time, the Brazilian Embassy expressed concern to the Irish government about the practice of holding people in prisons for immigration issues.

Renovation 

The OPW has said it has now executed a new lease arrangement with the DAA for the building it will use for the dedicated immigration unit. It has also awarded the contract for the renovation and fit-out to JP Hegarty & Sons construction company.

The works include the provision of new accommodation for the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and An Garda Siochana at Dublin Airport.

The proposed works in the single storey building will include provision of distinct areas for garda immigration officers, which include; offices and communal facilities like changing areas, canteen and other support space.

The OPW told TheJournal.ie that the garda station area will also include detention cells and other essential support space

Works are due to commence on site shortly and are expected to be completed by end of year.

‘Frightened’

The practice of detaining people in prison after they have been refused entry to the country was strongly criticised in a recent research report by Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre.

The research referenced a number of examples, including that of a young Somali man was held for five hours at the airport before being transferred to Cloverhill Prison.

In this man’s case, there was no flight back to the Scandinavian country from which he had travelled to Ireland that day. He was told he might be removed two days later, on Thursday. He offered to buy his own ticket back home, but was informed “that’s not how it works”.

Another detainee, from Ukraine, flew on his Romanian passport (considered a fake by immigration authorities) from Bucharest and had a return flight booked for ten days later.

“It is my first time in prison. I am very frightened. There have been many flights every day. Why is it taking so long? For three days I am here,” he told researchers.

The report said it is “of serious concern” that individuals detained as a result of a refusal of leave to land are not always returned on the earliest flight to their airport of origin or a connecting hub.

“We need to ensure that people who are being refused leave to land are being given every opportunity to access the asylum process if that is what they require, and that Ireland is not at risk of violating its international obligations of non-refoulement in returning people to their place of origin,” Nasc CEO Fiona Finn said last month.

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