By Jamie Smyth
About 70 asylum seekers demonstrated outside the Dáil yesterday against the poor conditions at many asylum hostels and the long delays in deciding their applications for protection by the State.
They were joined by several politicians and representatives of immigrant groups, who delivered a letter of protest to Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern about the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. The NGOs (Nongovernmental organisations) say the Bill disregards basic human rights by introducing summary deportation, which means people deemed illegally in the State can be deported without any appeals.
“Current procedures regarding deportation provide an individual 15 days to make representations to the Minister as to why he or she should be allowed to remain in the State. The new Bill would take away this basic provision,” said a statement from an NGO coalition opposing the Bill.
Siobhán O’Donoghue of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said the new Bill in its current form would end up a bonanza for lawyers and cost taxpayers money needlessly by provoking court challenges.
“Even a criminal facing extradition gets 14 days to make an appeal whereas this Bill removes this right for people who have committed no crime,” she said.
Labour TD Michael D Higgins said summary deportation broke basic human rights. He said the new version of the Bill was a step backwards when compared with a previous version of the Bill, which TDs spent hundreds of hours poring over in the Oireachtas.
The Bill is the third attempt by successive Governments to pass a comprehensive piece of immigration legislation that consolidates existing law and aims to solve big problems with the current system.
There are lengthy delays in the processing of claims for asylum and other forms of protection, which forces thousands of men, women and children to share rooms in hostels for several years.
“I’ve been living in direct provision for six years. I came here when I was 32 and I’m now 38. It’s such a waste of a life because I can’t work,” said Ivo, an asylum seeker from Cameroon who is living in Mosney.
Ivo is one of 26 asylum seekers at Mosney who are still opposing a transfer to a new hostel in Dublin.
In June, the Reception and Integration Agency ordered 109 asylum seekers at Mosney to move to Hatch Hall hostel in Dublin in order to cut costs.
So far 41 have moved, and a further 36 have either left the direct provision system or moved to other asylum centres across the country.
Six have been allowed to remain at Mosney, following medical representations made on their behalf by doctors.