At last: new rights for children in Direct Provision

Young asylum seekers can now access the Children’s Ombudsman

Written by Jack Eustace


Ireland’s system of Direct Provision, in which asylum seekers are held in temporary accommodation for years on end, has long been criticised by human rights activists. However this week saw a rare breakthrough for the rights of children and young people living in Direct Provision.

So what’s changing? Basically, the government has confirmed that people under 18 living in Direct Provision will have access to the office of the Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman is an independent service that promotes the rights of children and young people. It also investigates suspected abuses of those rights by public organisations.

The current Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon has welcomed this news and believes it will enable his office to “make a constructive contribution to the overall welfare of children living in Direct Provision accommodation”.

Dr Muldoon hopes that they will be able to accept complaints from children in Direct Provision from April 2017.

How to make a complaint to the Ombudsman

Anyone under the age of 18 can make a complaint to the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO). People over the age of 18 can also complain on behalf of a young person if they’re related to them or they work with them as a professional.

You can complain if you think you or another young person has been treated unfairly by any of the following organisations:

  • A public school or hospital
  • Any government department (for example the Department of Health)
  • Some organisations that receive public money

The OCO recommends trying to sort out your problem with the organisation directly if possible before sending a complaint. If you are making a complaint, be sure to include as much information about the problem as possible. Once your complaint is sent, you should receive a response within two days.

You can complain online to the Ombudsman here or Freephone 1800 20 20 40. You can also email them at [email protected] or send them a letter at:

        Ombudsman for Children’s Office

        Millennium House

        52-56 Great Strand Street

        Dublin 1

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