Irish Supreme Court rules on Family Reunification, A.M.S. (Somalia, Family Reunification) [2014] IESC 65

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Supreme Court has held that a decision by the Minister for Justice and Equality to refuse a Somali refugee family reunification (with his mother and minor sister) was outside the range of proportionate decisions which were open to the Minister. The Court therefore held that the Minister’s appeal was to be dismissed.  

The facts of the case relate to a Somali national who had received refugee status in Ireland but was subsequently denied family reunification with his family members located in Ethiopia. In this regard, the refusal was based on a margin of appreciation whereby the State could deviate from the right to respect of family life where the legitimate aim of the State is being pursued, namely its economic well-being.

Whilst the Supreme Court conceded that “economic consequences for the State of the admission of persons as a result of a successful family reunification application are a factor which can be taken into account,” in this case the only factors for refusal put forward by the Minister was the general burden on the State. The Court found that the financial consequences were in fact extremely limited. Thus, in those circumstances the Court surmised that it could not reasonably be held that “those factors outweigh, in a proportionate fashion, the family and other rights which had to be balanced on the applicant’s side.” The Court consequently submitted that the decision of the Minister to refuse family reunification in respect of the applicant’s family was disproportionate.       

27 November 2014                                      

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.                                                       


Family reunification