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Doolan welcomes end of Afghan thirst strike and meeting with Justice Department

16 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor, Daithi Doolan has welcomed the fact that the Afghans in St Patrick's Cathedral have suspended their thirst strike and that representatives of the protesters will be meeting with officials from the Department of Justice this afternoon. He described it as a "positive move" which he hoped would "pave the way for a resolution to the protest."

Councillor Doolan said, "I am delighted that the men have suspended their thirst strike and also that officials from the Department of Justice will meet with the men later today. It is a very welcome development which I hope will pave the way for a resolution to the protest."

Speaking from St Patrick's Cathedral the Dublin South East councillor said, "I met with the men earlier today and was left in no doubt as to their determination to continue with the protest. The seriousness of the situation was underlined when one of the protesters had to be taken to St James Hospital and was described as being in a serious condition.

"At the core of this protest is the unacceptable and draconian manner in which asylum applications are processed in this state and the shameful failure of the state to introduce complementary protections for those individuals who fall outside the narrow Convention criteria for refugee status. In no sane persons mind can Afghanistan be described as a safe or democratic society. There is still conflict raging across larges parts of the country. This reality, and the fact that these men may be in grave danger should they be returned, needs to be taken in to account when dealing with their applications.

"If refugee status is not an option because of the narrow definition then we need to seriously look at granting leave to remain in this state on humanitarian grounds at least.

"Whatever happens, the Minister should still intervene directly to bring this entire protest to an end as soon as possible."

Sinn Féin TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Crowe joined Councillor Doolan at St Patrick's Cathedral today.

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