Ireland could opt-into new EU asylum rules

Ireland could opt-into new EU asylum rules

Helen McEntee

Ireland could decide to opt-into new EU asylum and migration rules early next year, justice minister Helen McEntee has said.

Mrs McEntee yesterday welcomed news that political agreement had been reached between the European Parliament and Council on the remaining measures of the Asylum and Migration Pact, which will regulate how EU member states deal with people arriving at their borders.

She said: “I believe this agreement represents an important balance between effective asylum and return procedures and protections for those seeking protection who are the most vulnerable. This agreement will allow for unprecedented reforms, and a more effective, coherent and fair system to manage migration in the EU.

“Those who have a right to international protection must be given that status as quickly as possible. For those who are found not to have a right to international protection, they must return to their home country as quickly as possible.”

However, the Pact has also come under sharp criticism from human rights campaigners including Amnesty International.

Eve Geddie, director of Amnesty’s European institutions office, said: “This agreement will set back European asylum law for decades to come. Its likely outcome is a surge in suffering on every step of a person’s journey to seek asylum in the EU.

“From the way they are treated by countries outside the EU, their access to asylum and legal support at Europe’s border, to their reception within the EU, this agreement is designed to make it harder for people to access safety.”

Ireland has not yet opted-into the Pact measures, with the exception of the European Union Asylum Agency Regulation. The rest of the EU will be bound by them two years after they are adopted, which will likely happen in the first few months of next year.

The Department of Justice said Mrs McEntee “will seek a decision from government on Ireland opting-into the Pact measures in the first quarter of next year”.

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