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Council of State meeting vindicates opposition concerns on IPB – Ó Clochartaigh

24 December, 2015

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh believes the fact that the President has called a meeting of the Council of State to discuss the International Protection Bill is a vindication of serious concerns raised during debates in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Speaking today the Galway West – South Mayo Senator says:

‘President Higgins has only convened one previous meeting of the Council of State to discuss legislation during his term of office. Therefore, if he sees a need to bring the Council of State together next week, he must have serious concerns about this piece of legislation which was rushed through the Oireachtas, where the government guillotined the debate.

‘Sinn Féin along with key stakeholders voiced serious concerns about this legislation from the outset. While we all welcome a single procedure for asylum applications that will deal with people in an efficient and timely way, we do not support a bill that is a step backwards in terms of the human rights of immigrants and asylum seekers.

‘It is baffling that the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and her Junior Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and their department have chosen to ignore the recommendations of the Government’s own Working Group on the Protection Process.

‘The Group made almost 170 recommendations and yet the bill pushed through the Seanad and Dáil by the Government takes, by the government’s own estimation, just 26 of these on board.  

‘We were also alarmed that the democratic procedures required for effective scrutiny of legislation were ignored in the speed with which this bill was rushed through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

‘Absolutely no heed has been paid to the very grave concerns expressed by NGO’s such as the Irish Refugee Council, NASC, Doras Luimní, The Children’s Rights Alliance, Spirasi, and others about the bill.  

‘At the time I stated that I believe this bill is not fit for purpose and is a rolling back of previous protections provided for in the Asylum Act of 1996.

‘A major concern is that the bill does not address the totally unacceptable and discredited Direct Provision system itself.  It merely purports to attempt to shorten the time of incarceration.

‘It is not clear where the President sees particular issues with the bill, but the fact that the Council of State have been asked to convene to discuss it is an important development and if they highlight weaknesses in the bill that must be addressed that will send a very strong message to the government that it needs to be changed.

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