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Ó Ríordáin must clarify position on protection process – Ó Clochartaigh

27 March, 2015

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has called on Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin to state if he shares concerns that his government working group on the protection process is being undermined by the Department of Justice. The Galway Senator made the statement in the Seanad this morning in light of the resignation of Sue Conlan of the Irish Refugee Council from the working group.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:

"I am very concerned that a key stakeholder should find that they have no other option but to resign from the Government Working Group on the Protection Process, set up by Minister Ó Ríordáin, to look at issues that those in the asylum process are facing.”

"I do not believe that this is a decision the Irish Refugee Council would take lightly. Sue Conlan has stated that the fact that the Working Group has not been given the opportunity to ‘have sight of or discuss the most significant changes in refugee law in Ireland for almost twenty years' was a contributing factor in her decision.”

"She also says that ‘any attempt within the working group to propose change which involves legislation such as putting accommodation and support in a bill or changing legislation to extend the role of the Ombudsman or Children's Ombudsman has been resisted by the Department of Justice’.”

"It appears to me that after trying to engage actively, Sue Conlan feels that her continued presence on the working group could be construed as an endorsement of it and by resigning she is withdrawing her support for it. This in my view is a damning indictment of the approach that this government is taking on asylum issues and draws into question the validity of the working group and the work it is doing.”

"There are also concerns that the existence of the working group is being used by the government as a defence in a number of legal cases and that this should be challenged also.”

“I raised my concerns from day one that this working group was a mechanism that would be used by the government to avoid dealing with their obligations under International Law in relation to those seeking protection in Ireland. I also think that it is being used to delay changes in the area of oversight and accountability, particularly in relation to the Direct Provision system.”

“I have called for a debate with Minister Ó Ríordáin as a matter of urgency so that we can challenge the government’s approach and ensure that the rights of people seeking asylum in Ireland can be upheld.” 

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