McDowell criticises 'ill-thought-out proposal' of climate asylum seekers

Integration Minister Roderic O'Gorman suggested people could come to Ireland due to climate issues elsewhere
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.49 19 Jan 2023

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McDowell criticises 'ill-thoug...

McDowell criticises 'ill-thought-out proposal' of climate asylum seekers

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.49 19 Jan 2023

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A proposal to allow asylum seekers come to Ireland because of climate issues elsewhere has been heavily criticised by Senator Michael McDowell.

The former Tánaiste and Justice Minister said the suggestion from Integration Minister Roderic O'Gorman was "ill-thought-out".

He told Newstalk Breakfast Minister O'Gorman should not be making such pronouncements without the Government's consent.


"That's not something that should be just thrown up there for discussion," he said.

"It adds to a public discussion, an ill-thought-out proposal.

"If we, for instance, said that coming from the Horn of Africa because there is climatic drought... gives you a right to come to Ireland to seek asylum here, where does that end?

"What does it mean for Ireland? We're not in a position to deal with that kind of thing".

'Don't do what Roderic O'Gorman does'

He said broaching such a topic is not what a minister should be doing.

"He is part of a Government which operates as a cohesive whole," he said

"He can't just put out a proposition like that without looking around a few corners".

He said there are some "far-right, xenophobic" people who are trying to capitalise on "a public sense of unease" around asylum seeking.

"There's an element of that, but at the very least, if you're going to have a debate, you don't do what Roderic O'Gorman does.

"From a position in Government, throw out a proposition that sensible people would say, 'Ah, for heaven's sake that's ridiculous - we can't sustain that particular proposal'.

"That plays into the hands of people who say all of this is out of control."

'This must be addressed'

Senator McDowell said the comments are just one part of the problem.

"The Government is facing into a crisis of its own on another front now," he said.

"A lot of the hotel accommodation that it has secured for the current bulge in asylum seeking numbers is about to be required for tourist purposes from Easter onwards.

"We just simply have to get our hands on the handlebars here - we can't just cycle along with our hands in our pockets.

"This is something which must be addressed fairly quickly or we will be facing into a crisis of accommodation, and that will turn into meat and drink for people who want to divide us and introduce a xenophobic quality into our discourse," he added.

Migration vs asylum

Senator McDowell also said the Government should be making a clear distinction between migration and asylum.

"It's very important that the Government accept its responsibility to decide on a clear policy in relation to migration - the distinction between migration and asylum seeking," he said.

He said the "current problems" in relation to that have to be dealt with.

"I'm totally in favour of the Ukrainians being given the asylum facilities' that they are being given in Ireland at the moment.

"That's an emergency situation that we have to face up to and square up to," he added.

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Asylum Seekers Climate Issue Michael McDowell Migration Newstalk Breakfast Roderic O'Gorman Ukrainians

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