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Government cannot be allowed to suppress freedom of information – McDonald

2 April, 2015 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin TD and Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has severely criticised government proposals to limit the scope of Freedom of Information (FOI), and particularly their attempts to limit FOI requests for the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. She branded the move as “alarmingly cynical”.

 Deputy McDonald said:

 “At the request of the Minister for Justice, Minister Howlin has pulled the shutters down and deliberately limited access to the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. I must ask why they feel that FOI requests for these two bodies must be limited to the 14th of October, 2014 onwards?”

 “By imposing a period that dates back a scant six months, they have cynically limited the process of freedom of information and blocked access to oversight of these two bodies; these two bodies which have been roundly criticised for being slow, cumbersome and completely sequestered from public view. People are forced to raise their children while locked in the system.”

 “It is imperative that we introduce more, not less, oversight into refugee application and direct provision systems. My party colleagues Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh have recently visited a range of direct provision centres and their findings have been grim to say the least.”

 “A third of direct provision residents have spent in excess of a decade in such places. We have a disgraceful system for dealing with refugees to this country.”

 “This government wants to maintain a shroud of secrecy that masks the chronic lack of transparency into what has all the hallmarks of a deeply broken system”

 “The government cannot be allowed to create a legal mechanism whereby they can sweep any attempt at investigation into the system to be swept under the rug. It is an alarmingly cynical move and must be opposed.” 

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