NGOs object as International Protection Act signed into law

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council
Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has described the signing into law of the International Protection Act 2015 as a “step backwards for Ireland”.

The new legislation, which was criticised by the IRC and other NGOs while before the Oireachtas, affects the process for securing refugee status in Ireland.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the legislation would reduce the length of time asylum applicants spend in the protection process, including the direct provision system, by establishing a single applications procedure.

However, the Government faced objections from TDs who said the legislation was “rushed through the Dáil so we can go on Christmas holidays”.

The legislation was later reviewed by a meeting of the seven-person Council of State to determine whether three sections were repugnant to the Constitution. A majority of members voted against referring the law to the Supreme Court.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said: “If the Government was satisfied that this legislation is fully compliant with Ireland’s commitments under international and EU law it would not have considered it necessary to prevent debate and it would have legislated for a system of reception.

“No explanation has been given for the rights accorded to refugees under the previous legislation, the Refugee Act 1996, being eroded.

“At a time when Ireland should be increasing the role that it plays in response to the refugee crisis, this Act will therefore mean that many will not get the protection that they need.”

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