'Blame immigrants, not us' is the government's message
Just over a week since Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh accused Minister McDowell of being committed to playing the race card in advance of the next election, the Dublin South-Central TD has reaffirmed this position following the announcement of measures in the new Immigration Bill. Outlining key areas of disagreement with the proposed legislation, while reserving final judgement until a thorough analysis could be conducted, Deputy Ó Snodaigh described Minister McDowell's efforts to play the race card as 'cowardice, hypocrisy and racism.'
The Dublin South-Central TD said: "Until we have had time to conduct a thorough analysis of the bill and liase with immigrant and civil liberties groups, Sinn Féin cannot take a definitive position on the legislation as a whole, however I have already identified a number of key proposals that we will certainly be rejecting in line with existing party policy.
"The proposals on summary deportation for example, are clearly discriminatory. People will be subject to deportation for associating with criminal elements or even minor traffic infringements. Thus, people will be punished for who they might know or who they might be related to even if they are not involved in crime themselves or are not aware of the other's involvement.
"We made our position on biometric identification cards clear last month when it first became clear it would be part of the proposals. Non-EU nationals are already obliged to carry their passports at all times. They are unnecessary and discriminatory and lend themselves to racial profiling with all the implications this would have for civil liberties and human rights. Research carried out in Britain by the London School of Economics ahead of proposals to introduce biometric ID cards there found a number of potential violations of Article 8 (privacy) and Article 14 (discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. They also estimated an approximate cost of almost €350 per person.
"We must also oppose the proposal to cut off access to the judicial review system for asylum seekers who fail to get refugee status. Minister McDowell's claim that he wishes to abolish it because of his concern for the length of the process requires a great deal of naïveté for anyone to take seriously. The reality is that he wishes to eliminate key rights and protections for those fleeing violence and persecution. If he is concerned about the length of their stay, he can improve and speed up the judicial review process instead of abolishing it.
"Coming into the next election, the government has clearly decided on a simple mantra when confronted with the evidence of their catastrophic failures in social service provision. Blame the Nigerians, don't blame Bertie will be their message. Blame the Poles, don't blame Mary Harney. Blame the Romanians, don't blame Michael McDowell. James Connolly called it 'ruling by fooling'. I call it cowardice, hypocrisy and racism and we must all be prepared to stand up to it."