Asylum seekers

Before condemning Australia’s hard-line response to asylum seekers we should consider our own position on the growing problem.

Australia will refuse entry to asylum seekers who arrive by boat and send them to Papua New Guinea. In Ireland, we subject them to an almost interminable vetting process and confine them in pretty basic circumstances, refuse them the right to work and give them minimal support.

Surely a country like ours — or Australia — should have more empathy with those trying to build a better life in a new country.

Already, outgoing ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has warned that our procedures may breach UN humanitarian laws. Immigrant support groups have argued that we need to do much more to meet basic standards of decency and, dare we say it, Christian ideals.

An effective process does not mean we have to welcome anyone who washes up on our shores but considering how many people have left this country for a better life elsewhere it seems the very least we can do for those who come here.

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