Dáil references to ‘asylum tourists’ are “inaccurate”, the Irish Refugee Council has said.
During a Dáil debate on immigration on Wednesday, two TDs from the Rural Independent used the term while claiming people are arriving in Ireland because asylum laws are more lenient than other European countries.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Irish Refugee Council CEO Nick Henderson said he had not watched the debate but that the term did not reflect the reality of the asylum system.
“I think that’s a poor comment, it’s inaccurate,” he said.
“People who come to Ireland seeking protection have the right under Irish law and EU law to have their application considered.
“But it’s worth remembering, if that person has been in another European country, under the Dublin regulation that was created decades ago, people can be returned back to a country that they’ve passed through.”
Mr Henderson said it is important that people do not judge those who arrive in Ireland and apply for asylum.
“There are a wide variety of reasons why people can apply for asylum and receive refugee status,” he said.
“Secondly, that we are careful around people’s identity; I was aware of a particular case being drawn attention to in the Dáil by elected representatives this week and I would remind everybody it is an offence to identify someone as an asylum applicant.”
Since the Russian invasion of their country, some 100,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland.
So far this year, there have been a further 12,000 international protection applicants and the State has struggled to find accommodation for them all.
In recent weeks, officials have taken to handing out tents and Mr Henderson said one new arrival who came to their office for help was “simply stunned” at the situation they were in.
“They are being directed to [homeless] services within Dublin city that do amazing work,” he said.
“[They] have increased their opening hours slightly and people are being given support.”
Today, the Irish Refugee Council has launched its Christmas appeal, ‘Stand with Hope and Dignity’, and Mr Henderson predicted the situation for refugees would continue to be “very serious” going into the New Year.
“As we’ve seen this week alone with people being left homeless on arrival, we are in a really difficult situation,” he said.
“As an independent charity, helping people seeking protection in Ireland, we’re thanking the Irish public for their support but also asking through this campaign, if they would consider a donation to us to support our work.”
Last year, the charity fielded calls from 22,000 people seeking help and gave substantial support to 11,000 people.
Main image: Asylum seekers queueing outside the Refugee Application Centre on Mount Street in Dublin, 30-01-2023. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.