Irish Refugee Council warns against ‘rushed’ legislation

Sue Conlan
Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has warned Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald not to rush the International Protection Bill through the Oireachtas without “fully considering its impact”.

Ms Fitzgerald said draft legislation she published earlier this month would reduce the length of time asylum applicants spend in the protection process, including the direct provision system, by establishing a single applications procedure.

The law would also allow An Garda Síochána to enter private dwellings in order to arrest asylum seekers who have been subjected to a deportation order.

The bill is set to complete its passage in Seanad Éireann by Friday before moving on to the Dáil.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said: “In its current form, the Bill does not have the right balance between the rights to protect people seeking international protection in Ireland, particularly those who are more vulnerable because of their age or experience of torture or severe trauma, and the interests of the state in deciding who can enter and stay in the country.”

She added: “At a time of the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, we must ensure that we do not play with people’s lives. Rushing through legislation without fully considering its impact could have the consequence of building a new legacy whereby Ireland fails to live up to its obligation to provide protection to refugees.

“The IRC recommendations for changes in the Bill could, if acted upon, strengthen Ireland’s commitment to provide place of safety for people at risk of persecution or serious harm.”

The IRC said the bill abolishes the independent Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and transfers responsibility for all aspects of a claim to the Department of Justice, leaving the International Protection Appeal Tribunal as the only independent element.

The IRC’s recommendations can be viewed in full on the IRC website.

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