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Justice Official's Statements Inflammatory and Unproductive - Ó Snodaigh

23 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Aengus ÓSnodaigh TD has reacted angrily to remarks made on Thursday by Department of Justice Secretary General Seán Aylward, calling them “inflammatory and unproductive”.  Deputy Ó Snodaigh said labelling the vast majority of asylum seekers as “economic migrants” and liars follows the tone set by the Minister for Justice and is the kind of language we have come to expect from this Department.

He said, “How ironic that Mr. Aylward is condemning people from poverty-stricken and war-torn countries for allegedly ‘seeking to better themselves and their families’ and endeavouring to reject and deport such people as quickly as possible on the one hand.  While, on the other hand, this Government is pleading with the United States to make provisions for Irish emigrants who have been living and working in the US illegally.  While I wholeheartedly support such efforts on behalf of Irish emigrants, I find it hypocritical in the extreme to scapegoat people in genuine need here in Ireland.

“Fear of deportation and public hostility fueled by such statements is driving asylum seekers and other immigrants underground, serving only to create a vulnerable underclass living in secrecy, open to intimidation, exploitation and isolation. This could be addressed if Ireland would offer complementary or subsidiary forms of protection to individuals who fail to qualify as refugees under the strict interpretation of the Refugee Convention definition, yet still require protection on other grounds.  These protections are in place in many other European states. 

“I would like to know on what information Mr. Aylward is basing his statement that earlier decisions allowing some asylum seekers to work had been ‘catastrophic’.  I have asked the Minister on a number of occasions to do a cost-benefit analysis on a right to work (and pay taxes) policy versus direct provision.   This has yet to be done.  Surely, that would be preferable to all parties concerned and deserves to be looked at.

“The issues that have Mr. Aylward so upset can be directly linked to the failure of Minister McDowell to develop adequate options for legal residency.  His remarks were inflammatory and unproductive.  Labelling the vast majority of asylum seekers as ‘economic migrants’ and liars follows the tone set by the Minister for Justice and is the kind of language we have come to expect from this Department.” ENDS

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