Asylum seekers and failed asylum seekers who arrive in Northern Ireland are being removed against their will to be detained in England and Scotland under a new Home Office policy, it emerged today.
The group used to be given the choice of whether to be detained in prisons in Northern Ireland, as there are no immigration detention faciliites in the country, or be transferred to detention centres in England and Scotland but now this option has been removed.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director for Amnesty International, said that removing people could lead to them becoming isolated and make it more difficult for them to remain in contact with their lawyers.
“It’s a cause for concern particularly where people have been here for a long period of time and have family and friendship networks and lawyers in Northern Ireland,” he said.
A Home Office spokesperson said that it was not viable to build immigration detention facilities in Northern Ireland, as only a small number of people were detained there. She said that people would have the same access to legal services as before the policy had come into force.