Justice minister Michael McDowell was challenged today to show leadership on the protection of refugees coming to Ireland.
Sinn Féin equality spokesman Aengus O’Snodaigh claimed the minister had conducted a war against refugees since he took up office in 2002 using them as scapegoats for a lack of public services.
“During the election period he used them as scapegoats for his government’s failure to make adequate provision for healthcare and housing for all in this state,” he said.
“By his public statements he has himself directly contributed to the widespread misperceptions about them as a group.”
Mr O’Snodaigh added the Government had failed to inform the Irish people of the plight many refugees had suffered and that there was an onus the minister to tell the public the real facts.
He added there was no reason why temporary work permits allowing asylum seekers to work and pay taxes were not issued while applications were processed.
Last weekend the electorate voted four to one in favour of amending the constitution to restrict the country’s citizenship regulations.
Non-national parents of Irish-born children will no longer have the right to claim citizenship in the State.
Speaking on World Refugee Day the Dublin south central TD said many skilled and educated refugees were being denied the right to make a valid contribution to Irish society.
“I challenge him to instead exercise his responsibility to dispel the prevalent myths about refugees and asylum seekers, and about Ireland’s role in refugee protection.
“He must send an unequivocal message that refugees are, in fact, welcome here and will be shown the respect that they deserve.”