Treatment of asylum seekers shames us all

THE Irish people have long held a cherished reputation as a compassionate and caring people, with citizens gladly contributing to charities and good causes.

In contrast, the institutions of the State have often been callous and uncaring and, as our story on asylum-seekers reveals, our immigration services are no better.

It is alarming to note the huge increase in the number of people refused entry to the state, some of whom are nationals of countries where they are likely to be at risk of persecution or serious harm.

Most people would be aware of the intolerable conditions faced by many migrants who remain stuck for years in direct provision. Last September, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald promised major improvements and the acceptance of 4,000 people under a relocation regime.

She promised that the Irish Refugee Protection Programme would “offer a a welcome safe haven for families and children who have been forced to leave their homes due to war and conflict”.

Instead, attention is now being focused on asylum-seekers at the point of entry at ports and airports, and they are being turned away in their thousands without the opportunity to put their case.

Whether this breaches the Geneva Convention on refugees is arguable, but there is no doubt that it shames us all.


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