SOC30360: The Term ‘Asylum Seeker’ Describes Those Who Leave Their Country And Seek Protection From Persecution And Serious Human Rights Violations: Sociology Of Migration, Race And Ethnicity Report, UCD, Ireland

The term ‘asylum seeker’ describes those who leave their country and seek protection from persecution and serious human rights violations from another state, but has not been legally recognized as a refugee. Seeking asylum is a human right under European Union law and European Convention on Human Rights law. In Ireland, asylum seekers have to leave to remain until their claim for refugee status or subsidiary protection is determined.

Within Ireland, there had been the very little experience in providing for those seeking protection prior to the 1990s. Going forwards then from that period, Irish government policy viewed asylum and protection seekers as potential refugees who should benefit from core welfare rights, including health care and emergency accommodation on the same basis as Irish citizens.

Under Irish law, while asylum seekers do enjoy certain rights to accommodation, food, and a small monetary allowance, they do not enjoy full access to social assistance payments and support under Irish social welfare law.

The number of people applying for asylum in Ireland has been falling since 2002. However, over time, welfare entitlements for asylum seekers were lessened and differentiated from mainstream welfare provisions. This drop in figures was due to asylum seekers being excluded from mainstream social assistance structures that were in place. Asylum seekers in Ireland have little in the way of definitive legal rights or entitlement to the separated system of welfare support, known as direct provision.

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