The Children's Rights Alliance has hailed as "hugely symbolic" Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s commitment in principle to allow the 1,200 asylum-seeking children living in Direct Provision Centres to have their complaints independently examined by the Ombudsman for Children.

The same powers are to be given to the mainstream ombudsman with respect to adult residents of the centres.

The move implements one of the main recommendations contained in a report on Ireland from the Geneva-based UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

It also gives force to one of the many yet-to-be-implemented recommendations of the report by the government-appointed working group on Direct Provision published in June.

The commitment is subject to legal advice from the Attorney General.

Both ombudsmen concerned welcomed the development.

Dr Niall Muldoon, the Ombudsman for Children, said implementation of the recommendations will give children living in direct provision the same access to his office as other children living in Ireland and that it will enable his office to make a constructive contribution to the overall welfare of children living in direct provision accommodation.

The Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall, said: "This represents a major step forward in bringing independent oversight to this area.

"We are delighted that the Minister for Justice and Equality has agreed in principle to make arrangements for those in direct provision accommodation to have access to our offices. 

"We would like to thank the Minister and her department's officials for their support and look forward to continuing to work constructively with the Department in putting suitable arrangements in place," Mr Tyndall added.