Place of detention

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 23/04/21


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Places of detention are set out in S.I. 666/2016 – International Protection Act 2015 (Places of Detention) Regulations 2016, which was amended by the Reception Conditions Regulations 2018 to designate places of detention as “Every Garda Síochána Station [and] Cloverhill Prison.”

Prior to the Regulations, women were generally detained at the Dóchas Centre in Dublin which has a capacity of 105 places. Men were generally detained at Cloverhill Prison in west Dublin which has a capacity of 431.Following the introduction of the Regulations, the Dóchas Centre was not listed as a place of detention and it is therefore unclear where female detainees are to be held in practice. However, according to reports from various observers, the Dóchas Centre remains the primary detention facility for holding female detainees.[1].

Section 78(4) IPA states that a person detained under that section (Section 78(1) and (2) i.e. with deportation order in force) may be placed on a ship, railway train, road vehicle or aircraft about to leave the State by an immigration officer or a member of the Garda Síochána and shall be deemed to be in lawful custody whilst so detained and until the ship, railway train, road vehicle or aircraft leaves the State.

This practice of detaining asylum seekers in prisons has been criticised by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) and on two occasions by the UN Committee against Torture which found that a prison is by definition not a suitable place in which to detain someone who is neither suspected nor convicted of a criminal offence.[2] In response, the Irish government stated that they planned to establish a specific immigration detention centre at Dublin Airport in 2016. In response to an Irish Times report on the detention of a Brazilian woman at Dochas Women’s Prison in July 2017, a Department of Justice Spokesperson stated that work on the dedicated facility was expected to begin on site at Dublin Airport in September 2017 with an estimated timeframe of ten months before becoming operational.[3] As mentioned in Access to the Territory, that facility is still not operational as of January 2021, despite the Minister for Justice indicating that it would be operational by the end of 2018.

Beyond those facilities, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in a recent commissioned report on Ireland and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture indicated that Direct Provision could be considered de facto detention.[4] This is due to the fact that that while people are free to leave Direct Provision centres at any time, due to peoples’ limited financial allowance and often isolated location, this may be difficult or impossible in practice.


[1]  Global Detention Project, Ireland Immigration Detention Profile, August 2019, available at:

[2] CPT, Report to the Government of Ireland on the visit to Ireland from 16 to 26 September 2014, Council of Europe, 17 November 2015; United Nations Committee against Torture, Concluding observations on the second periodic report of Ireland, August 2017, para 12(d).

[3]  Irish Times, ‘Work on Dublin Airport immigration detention centre to begin’, 28 July 2017, available at:

[4] Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Ireland and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, September 2017, Available at:, 32.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation