Asylum Bill ignored recommendations, says Collins

Frances Fitzgerald: bill has delivered on Government’s commitment. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill  Photographer: Dara Mac Donaill / THE IRISH TIMES

Frances Fitzgerald: bill has delivered on Government’s commitment. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill Photographer: Dara Mac Donaill / THE IRISH TIMES

 

A Bill to create a single procedure for asylum applications has failed to incorporate a single amendment recommended by the working group established to look at the process, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins also said the International Protection Bill did not accept those of the Oireachtas justice committee in its interim report either.

He reminded the Dáil that following a “shambolic” process of dealing with the Bill in the Seanad, three non-governmental organisations that welcomed the Bill with reservations are now calling for it to be withdrawn.

He said his party would support the legislation but he shared the NGOs’ disappointment that the Bill did not incorporate any of the working group’s 26 recommendations.

Expressed reservations

Irish Refugee Council

Introducing the Bill, however, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said its principal purpose was to reform the system for determining applications for international protection in Ireland through a single application procedure. This would result in speedier and proper processing of new applications for international protection.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Bill delivered on the Government commitment to legislate to reduce the length of time asylum applicants spent in the direct provision system.

Key reforms

There was a dispute in the Seanad debate about making a provision on the best interests of the child.

But the Minister said that the Bill had two remits: protection and immigration. Reforms in both areas were intertwined and “it is this legal tension alone that prevents any overworking provision on the best interests of the child being included now”.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the Bill failed to achieve its promise “to ensure asylum seekers were treated with respect and humanity within a framework of more efficient immigration procedures and safeguards”.

Mr Mac Lochlainn warned that the speed with which the Bill was being pushed through the Oireachtas “does not inspire any confidence that the Government is taking the rights of the most vulnerable people seriously”.

Independent TD Clare Daly said it was “reprehensible not only that the Bill does not end direct provision and deal with the continuing human rights violations but also that it facilitates a process of keeping people in direct provision and speeding up the deportation at the end of it”.