ESRI Research Series

Policies and Practices on Unaccompanied Minors in Ireland

This report has been peer reviewed prior to publication. The authors are solely responsible for the content and the views expressed.

November 25, 2014
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This study is a broad-ranging exploration of the policies and practices in place for unaccompanied minors in Ireland. While at EU-level there are indications that the number of unaccompanied minors moving to and within the region is increasing, in Ireland the trend is downward. For example, between 2000 and 2008 some 5,688 unaccompanied minors were referred to the specialist TUSLA Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum (SWTSCSA) in Dublin, while in the period January 2009 - October 2014, 661 referrals took place. The study investigates: the availability of data on the group; the motivations and circumstances of unaccompanied minors seeking entry to Ireland; the policy and practices at play at the border and when claiming asylum; and the policies and practices in place on age assessment and guardianship. The absence of a clearly defined immigration status for unaccompanied minors is considered and the implications are examined. The application of the law and practices regarding reception and care of unaccompanied minors are also discussed in detail. In addition available information is provided on minors going missing from State care and the situation of unaccompanied minors who turn 18 years of age and therefore potentially "age-out" of the system. The issue of return of unaccompanied minors is examined as one of several possible "durable solutions".The report is based on the Irish contribution to an EU-wide, European Migration Network study on Policies, Practices and Data on Unaccompanied Minors in 2014, which updates and expands on a 2010 study. A similar study to this one will be undertaken by each European Migration Network (EMN) National Contact Point (NCP) and a synthesis report will be produced in 2015.