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4th November 2019 | Direct provision, Immigration, Press Releases

Taoiseach’s comments on migrants risk taking debate on immigration down a dangerous path

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Responding to comments made by the Taoiseach marking certain migrants as the ‘big driver’ behind the rise in asylum seekers coming to Ireland, Green Party Councillor and by-election candidate for Dublin Fingal Joe O’Brien says the Taoiseach must ensure that flippant or potentially dangerous remarks don’t give encouragement to those who are currently trying to drum up anti-immigrant sentiment.

Cllr. O’Brien, who sits on the monitoring committee of the National Migrant Integration Strategy, said: “People who come to Ireland claiming asylum and protection under the UN Convention immediately have legal status to be in the country – they are in no way classifiable as ‘illegal immigrants’. The Taoiseach should know this, and he should realise that it is dangerous and damaging to identify particular nationalities in statements about immigration. Whenever this has happened, it has only served to stigmatise certain nationalities in the media and in public discourse.

“Additionally, as someone who would have been well-briefed about the sensitivities of this issue – particularly in the wake of the protests on Achill – the Taoiseach must understand the damage that comments like these could potentially do to social cohesion in communities across Ireland.

“With these comments, and previous flippant remarks on direct provision, the Taoiseach risks taking the national debate on immigration down a very dangerous path, and at a time when the far-right is getting more organised in Ireland, the leader of our country can’t be seen to be participating in their dangerous, divisive and inaccurate rhetoric.

“He has done damage to people’s perceptions of asylum seekers and migrants at large. The divisive tone will, I fear, leak into conversation and communities across the country, and he should immediately apologise.”