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Immigration Bill regressive, inadequate and poorly written – Ó Snodaigh

14 February, 2008


Sinn Féin Human Rights Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has described the Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2008 as a "rehashing and reheating of the same regressive, inadequate and poorly written law that has been kicking around since 2005." Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the Bill "may actually place Ireland in breach of our obligations under international refugee and human rights laws."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I am very disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to see what has been put before us - a rehashing and reheating of the same regressive, inadequate and poorly written law that has been kicking around since at least 2005. This Bill, as presented, offers no clarity, no integrated approach, certainly does nothing to address the problems in the current "process", indeed has the potential to make things worse, and may actually place Ireland in breach of our obligations under international refugee and human rights law.

"Of general concern is the trend throughout the Bill of overly broad discretionary power vested in the Minister for Justice, the discretionary powers given to civil servants, Gardai and administrators with limited guidance, and the reliance on future "policy statements" and/or promises made by the Minister to address the gaps left in the legislation. What will happen when the Government or Minister changes? What will happen to those promises or commitments?

"The most serious of omissions is the whole subject of family reunification which impacts heavily on the human and constitutional rights of migrants and their family members. If this omission is not addressed, Ireland will be the only member of the EU not to have primary legislation covering this issue.

"Those who come to live, work and pay taxes in Ireland deserve to have a normal family life. By not providing for family reunion, we are creating isolation and unnecessary suffering, setting up barriers to integration. This is something that must be addressed in primary legislation.

"There are issues in this Bill that bring us dangerously close to breaches of the Constitution and of International Human Rights obligations, not to mention setting dangerous trends. While the Government complains about the costs associated with court actions, through these measures they are potentially setting themselves up for court challenges, with further costs and further delays.

"While recognising the need to maintain the safety and security of the State, it should not be at the detriment of other basic principles such as the protection of human rights, the fair treatment of persons and the administration of a just and transparent system." ENDS

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