Tánaiste ‘proud’ of Ireland’s record in never using migration to create political division

McGrath: ‘We should protect our own families’ as immigrants attempt illegal entry’

Simon Coveney said people who came to Ireland illegally did so either to claim asylum or because they were economic migrants. Photograph:  Stephen Collins /Collins Photos

Simon Coveney said people who came to Ireland illegally did so either to claim asylum or because they were economic migrants. Photograph: Stephen Collins /Collins Photos

 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has expressed his pride in Ireland’s policy of never using migration or immigration as a source of political division or to create fear across society.

He made his comments in the Dáil as Independent TD Mattie McGrath asked what action was being taken to deal with the almost 14,000 people who, he said, had tried to enter Ireland illegally since 2014.

Mr McGrath said it was “farcical” that “we are talking about what is happening in America” and elsewhere. “We should mind our own shores, protect our own people and families and have this dealt with immediately.”

The Independent TD claimed that year on year there had been a huge increase in the numbers of illegal immigrants.

“These people are roaming around, and all they have to do while they await an assessment, is sign on at a local Garda station. The Garda stations are not there, and there are no gardaí in them.”

Create fear

But the Tánaiste said: “When I speak about Ireland abroad, I am proud of the fact that we have never, in my political lifetime, chosen to use migration or immigration as a source of political division or to create fear across society”.

“We should not talk about how we manage people who come to Ireland illegally in the context of protecting our society. That is done by An Garda Síochána, which does a good job of protecting citizens.”

Mr Coveney said people who came to Ireland illegally did so either to claim asylum or because they were economic migrants, “and we have systems to ensure that we can test the difference between both”.

“We should focus on those systems rather than creating ambiguity or grey areas that play on the fears of citizens.”

EU leaders are also discussing migration, common standard procedures across Europe for dealing with migrants, and a quota system for redistributing asylum seekers.