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Government attacked over breathtaking hypocrisy in relation to asylum and refugee policy

18 June, 2005


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, today launched a blistering attack on the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell over what he termed his "arrogant and ruthless" contribution to the debate on asylum and refugee policy in this country.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh went on to decry the "breathtaking hypocrisy" of various Government Ministers and backbench TDs whom he said, "clambered over each other to claim credit for efforts to get residency rights for illegal Irish people in the US while facilitating a policy of mass deportations of parents of Irish children." Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his comments at the national demonstration against racism in Dublin today.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: "Minister Michael McDowell's recent performance in a Dáil Committee meeting where he said he wished he was in a position to stand guard at Dublin Airport and turn back asylum seekers before the had a chance to set foot on land was the most arrogant and ruthless contribution

I've seen yet to the debate on asylum and refugee policy. If comments like these were made by a member of the BNP in Britain there'd be outrage. Here we have a Minister for Justice -- allegedly one of the state's finest legal minds -- declaring that his preference would be to dispense with due process and our obligations under international law. The Minister's own prejudices probably best explain why our asylum laws are in such a shambolic and inherently inhumane state.

"But in fairness the Minister isn't alone. He is not a one-man Government, although he might like to be or even believes he ought to be. No, he is just one of a whole team who have presided over the mess that sees families split up; sees children snatched from their schools; sees mothers and fathers forced to abandon their children and most unfortunately an increasing rise in racism and intolerance, including racist attacks.

"But what is more unforgivable is the breathtaking hypocrisy not only of Michael McDowell and his fellow Government Ministers but the numerous Government backbenchers who clambered over each other to claim credit for efforts to get residency rights for illegal Irish people in the US while facilitating a policy of mass deportations of parents of Irish children.

"You cannot have your cake and eat it. If one supports the proposals in relation to regularising 'illegals' in the US - and Sinn Féin does support the bi-partisan McCain-Kennedy initiative - then one should equally support the introduction of similar mechanisms to apply to illegal migrants in Ireland, pending introduction of a comprehensive reform and a fair, compassionate, human rights-compliant and anti-racist immigration and asylum policy." ENDS

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