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Debunked: High Court did not rule that ‘illegal immigrants should be paid €318 per week’

The Journal had reported on an ongoing case against the state.

A CLAIM SHARED on social media said that the High Court has ruled that “illegal immigrants should be paid €318 per week”.

A misreading of a current case about Ireland’s obligations to asylum seekers appears to have spurred inaccurate posts online.

The claim that asylum seekers would require a payment of €318 was not a court finding, but a submission by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) to the court.

The court has not declared a finding and the case is still ongoing at the time of writing.

It should also be noted that illegal immigrants and asylum seekers are not the same thing and should not be conflated with each other, as the post appears to do.

Illegal immigration refers to people who entered the state unlawfully, such as by being smuggled in a container or even refusing to engage with the asylum process.

However, anyone with a pending asylum application with immigration authorities is legally entitled to remain in the state. Read more about this here.

“Irish High Court deems illegal immigrants should be paid €318 per week, as average rent is over €2,500 per month, which is over 50% of take home pay,” a Facebook post above a screenshot of a tweet by The Journal reads.

“Record numbers [are] homeless, including over 4,000 children. This country is seriously, seriously screwed.”

However, neither the tweet by The Journal, nor the article linked to it, support this.

“The High Court has heard that payments to asylum seekers would need to rise to €318 per week to allow them to live above the poverty line,” The Journal’s tweet reads.

“The claim was made in a case against the State over its failure to house nearly 3,000 IP applicants.”

In other words, the claim that asylum seeker payments would need to be increased was argued in the High Court – but that does not mean that the court agreed with the claim.

To make the distinction clearer: in a trial like this, a court will usually hear a submission from one side about why it is bringing the case.

The defence will also make submissions as to why it believes that the applicant – in this case the IHREC – is innocent.

However, these claims often contradict each other, and it is the court’s job to decide between them.

The case that The Journal reported on was a claim by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) against the State that began on Wednesday of this week.

The commission is seeking a declaration by the court that the State is failing to adequately provide asylum seekers with shelter, food and access to basic hygiene facilities on top of a weekly allowance, in breach of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Irish Constitution.

In one affidavit submitted to the court, former IHREC chief Sinead Gibney outlined how the weekly payment for asylum seekers would need to rise to €318.53 per week just to ensure those in receipt of it are not at risk of poverty.

This was based on figures from Social Justice Ireland which said the “poverty line” for any adult, not just asylum seekers, is marked at 60% of the 2023 median income in Ireland.

Asylum seekers who have not received an offer of accommodation are currently paid €113.80 per week, though they may also apply for the Additional Needs Payment on top of this.

In defence, counsel for the State said that Ireland is experiencing “severe and unprecedented migratory pressures”.

The court was told that the number of asylum seekers and refugees in State accommodation had increased 11-fold in just two years, an unforeseeable situation that has resulted in accommodation shortages.

The case is ongoing at the time of writing and the court, which has not made any ruling in the case yet, has not ruled that payments from the State should be increased from current rates to  €318.53 per week.

With reporting by Stephen McDermott.

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