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Burton, Joan

Wednesday, 28 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 462 Nbr. 3


Refugee Bill, 1995: Report Stage.

The point at issue in these amendments is the provision of interpretation and translation services to asylum seekers. Throughout the Bill the obligation imposed on the authorities is to provide su...More Button

Deputies may recall that the corresponding wording in the 1994 Refugee Bill is “where necessary and practicable”, a much more restrictive form of wording. When that Bill was discussed by a select ...More Button

I hope the House recognises that some qualification is necessary to ensure against the possibility that unscrupulous applicants could abuse the system by pretending to speak obscure dialects for wh...More Button

I assure Deputy O'Donoghue that the system works very well in Shannon, with the Irish Refugee Council and so on. We are considering exceptional circumstances of potential abuse. The parliamentary ...More Button

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

Amendment No. 6 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 7:More Button

In page 7, line 7, after “declaration” to insert “and that he or she is entitled to consult a solicitor and the High Commissioner”.More Button

Amendments Nos. 7, 8 and 12 are designed to meet a point raised by Deputy O'Donnell on Committee Stage regarding notice to the person seeking asylum of the entitlement to consult a solicitor and a ...More Button

The effect of the three Government amendments is to ensure that asylum seekers at a port or airport will be informed by the immigration officer conducting the initial on the spot interview of their...More Button

These amendments fulfil the undertaking I gave on Committee Stage to take account of the Deputy's amendment. As I mentioned at that time they do not implement one aspect of the Deputy's amendment w...More Button

Strictly speaking, the matter of legal aid does not arise at this point. I might on Committee Stage familiarise the Deputy somewhat further with my references to the legal aid framework — a ...More Button

I am very anxious to devise a scheme which will have the confidence of asylum seekers, will provide a high quality service, value for Government money and which will meet the requirements of the Un...More Button

The difficult task of teasing out the legal issues means that getting the scheme up and running has not been as fast as I would like. However, it is more important to get matters right from the be...More Button

In the absence of details I can only repeat my commitment to ensure that an effective system is put in place in time for enforcement of these provisions. I assure the House I will make detailed inf...More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 8:More Button

In page 7, line 15, after “notice” to insert “and the notice shall state that the person is entitled to consult a solicitor and the High Commissioner”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendments Nos. 9 to 11, inclusive, not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 12:More Button

In page 7, to delete lines 21 to 26.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendment No. 13 not moved.More Button

While appreciating Deputy O'Donnell's purpose in tabling this amendment, I consider it neither appropriate nor necessary. It must be borne in mind that asylum seekers are allowed to remain in the ...More Button

As Deputy O'Donnell said, one of the reasons advanced for allowing asylum seekers to work is the length of time it takes to process their applications. I hope one of the positive aspects of this ...More Button

Another concern I have about allowing asylum seekers to work is that such a facility could be abused too easily. For example, an unscrupulous employer could arrange for the transfer here of a group...More Button

While some countries allow asylum seekers to work after a certain length of time, the reality is that, due to other constraints — for example language difficulties, labour market conditions o...More Button

This amendment would remove from the grounds for detention of an asylum seeker a reference to a suspected intention to leave the State and enter another State without lawful authority.More Button

The purpose of having this provision in the Bill is to safeguard the integrity of the common travel area arrangements that exist between this country and the United Kingdom and has nothing to do wi...More Button

This common travel area is of vital importance to the smooth operation of trade on all parts of this island and between the two islands. It is an important feature of tourism and other social inte...More Button

An important element in these arrangements is that each country operates controls on people coming from outside either State, to ensure that not only do they meet the requirements of domestic immig...More Button

Without the provision which amendment No. 16 proposes to delete, it would be a simple matter for unscrupulous people to use this country as a back door for easy illegal access to the United Kingdom...More Button

My amendment meets a point arising out of the terms of Deputy O'Donnell's amendment No. 17 when it was discussed on Committee Stage. I undertook then to come back with an amendment to deal with th...More Button

The present wording of the Bill is such that the qualification “without reasonable cause” in paragraph (e) of section 9 (8) applies only to the destruction of identity papers but not to the possess...More Button

The formula of words used in Deputy O'Donnell's amendment relating to the applicant's particular circumstances is one which I have discussed with the draftswoman. She assures me that the expressio...More Button

Deputy O'Donoghue's amendment No. 18 would delete the paragraph completely. I could not accept this as being a correct course of action, as the question of identity is one which is crucial to immig...More Button

I move amendment No. 19:More Button

In page 9, line 13, to delete “has, without reasonable cause,” and substitute “without reasonable cause has”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendment No. 20 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 21:More Button

In page 9, line 26, after “paragraph (c),” to insert “and if satisfied that one or more of the paragraphs of subsection (8) applies in relation to the person,”.More Button

Government amendments Nos. 21, 23, 26, 28 and 30 are all of a piece. Their aim is twofold. First, they make clear that the role of the court is not simply to rubberstamp the action taken by the i...More Button

Second, the amendments meet another point raised by Deputy O'Donnell on Committee Stage, and again in amendments Nos. 27 and 29 in her name today. That point is the specific provision of a right f...More Button

Arising out of that point, I wish to advert to another effect of the amendments now drafted. The Bill as it stands confines to the original immigration officer or garda the function of taking any ...More Button

With reference to my earlier comments about the balance between the asylum seeker's rights and the legitimate need to protect Irish society in terms of an unscrupulous application or where there is...More Button

Amendments Nos. 22 and 31 seek to reduce from ten to eight days the maximum period for which a court may at any one time commit a person to be detained. I wish to make it clear that detention of a...More Button

Deputies will recall that, in the 1994 Bill, the detention period provided for was 21 days. Some misgivings were expressed about the length of this period and accordingly the 1995 Bill provides fo...More Button

In such circumstances ten days is a maximum practicable time limit. Section 9 (10) (c) imposes an absolute obligation on the immigration officer or garda to bring the person before the court to ar...More Button

Amendment No. 32 seeks to ensure that the courts do not impose an indefinite period of detention, which is the point raised by the Deputy. This is not, in principle, at odds with my intention or t...More Button

It is, therefore, implicit in assigning the supervision of detention to the courts that they will only agree to the continued detention of a person where there is reasonable cause in accordance wit...More Button

I move amendment No. 23:More Button

In page 9, lines 44 and 45, to delete “the immigration officer, or, as the case may be, the” and substitute “an immigration officer or”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 24:More Button

In page 9, line 47, to delete “apply” and substitute “applies”.More Button

The purpose of the amendments is to correct minor grammatical errors in the original text.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 25:More Button

In page 10, line 1, to delete “apply” and substitute “applies”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 26:More Button

In page 10, between lines 2 and 3 to insert the following:More Button

“(d) Where a person is released from a place of detention subject to one or more of the conditions referred to in subsection (10) (b) (ii), a judge of the District Court assigned to the District C...More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendment No. 27 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 28:More Button

In page 10, to delete lines 29 and 36 and substitute the following:More Button

“is being detailed; and subsection (10) shall apply to such person detained under paragraph (a) as it applies to a person detained pursuant to subsection (8) with any necessary modifications.”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendment No. 29 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 30:More Button

In page 10, line 44, after “may” to insert “, if satisfied that one or more of the paragraphs of subsection (8) applies in relation go the person,”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendments Nos. 31 and 32 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 33:More Button

In page 11, line 10, to delete “either”.More Button

As I indicated to Deputies on Committee Stage, the UNHCR has raised certain issues with me regarding section 9 (15). This provision deals with circumstances in which persons can be excluded from ...More Button

The concerns expressed by the UNHCR in the main related to the fact that subsection (15) (b) (i) and (ii) were an application of the exclusion clauses of the convention. It pointed out that the re...More Button

Subsections (1) and (2) of section 9 effectively give every non-national who claims asylum the right to enter and remain in Ireland until his or her application has been finally determined. As a s...More Button

If, for example, an ex-dictator or drug baron from South America or a notorious war criminal from Bosnia were to avail themselves of the right to seek refuge in Ireland, it could be seriously damag...More Button

I should point out that subsection (15) does not provide for the exclusion of a person. Its only effect is to make it clear that a person who is the subject of an exclusion or prohibition order ma...More Button

The following points regarding the revised paragraphs (a) and (b) should be noted. The order has to be made by the Minister in respect of a specific person. Orders made under section 5 (1) (a) of ...More Button

Orders prohibiting a person from landing in or entering the State are only made in exceptional circumstances. As I pointed out to Deputies on Committee Stage, only two were made in the period from...More Button

The UNHCR recommendations and practice would suggest that before refusing such consent the Minister would have to balance the strength of the applicant's claim against the significance of the threa...More Button

What I am proposing is that where the Minister has, after consideration of all the facts available, made an order prohibiting an individual outside the State from entering the State for reasons of ...More Button

Amendment No. 38 to subsection (16) is a consequential amendment to amendments Nos. 33 to 36. I ask Deputies to support my amendments.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 34:More Button

In page 11, to delete lines 11 to 14.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 35:More Button

In page 11, lines 20 and 21, to delete “has serious reasons for considering that the person” and substitute “considers it necessary in the interest of national security or public policy (‘ordre pub...More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 36:More Button

In page 11, to delete lines 22 to 27.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendment No. 37 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 38:More Button

In page 11, lines 31 to 33, to delete “and any application by the person concerned which has already been referred to the Commissioner shall be deemed to be withdrawn”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendments Nos. 39, 40, 41 and 42 not moved.More Button

The provisions of subsection (4) enable the commissioner to request the Minister for Justice or the Minister for Foreign Affairs or some other person to make inquiries or furnish information. That...More Button

The amendment proposed by the Deputy would oblige the commissioner to ask the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Foreign Affairs or some other person to make inquiries or furnish information. ...More Button

There has been widespread approval of the independent role this Bill gives to the commissioner. One of the reasons for such approval was that it was considered better to have applications for asyl...More Button

The Minister for Justice, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the UNHCR may have sources of information which could be useful to the commissioner. Subsection (4) seeks to ensure that the commissio...More Button

The proposed amendment would also give the two Departments concerned a mandatory role in asylum applications, which would fly in the face of the concept of an independent commissioner, one of the c...More Button

As Montesquieu is not here the Deputy must make do with my comment, which I am sure would not be at the same level. The words “manifestly unfounded” are essentially broad, loose and sweeping if le...More Button

During our discussion on this section I undertook to discuss the proposed amendments with a parliamentary draftswoman. She has advised me she is satisfied that the subsections, as currently worded...More Button

With regard to Deputy O'Donoghue's concerns regarding subsection (4) (c), the parliamentary draftswoman is of the opinion that the Deputy's suggestion on Committee Stage that the commissioner be re...More Button

On Committee Stage, I referred to the definition of “manifestly unfounded”, abuse of applications and the comments by both UNHCR and the Executive Committee. I will not revisit this but I hope the...More Button

I reiterate that, where there is a manifestly unfounded application, the applicant will be able to avail of the full rigours of the appeal system. We are dealing with both genuine applicants and a...More Button

I move amendment No. 52:More Button

In page 15, lines 21 and 22, after “recommendation” to insert “and may request an oral hearing”.More Button

These amendments meet a point raised on Committee Stage. They put beyond doubt that a notice conveying an unfavourable decision to an applicant, whether in the ordinary way or by means of the mani...More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 53More Button

In page 15, lines 40, after “recommendation” to insert “and may request an oral hearing”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendments Nos. 54 and 55 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 57:More Button

In page 19, line 46, before “A” to insert “Subject to section 17 (2),”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendment No. 58 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 59:More Button

In page 21, lines 8 and 9, to delete “except with the consent of that person and the Minister” and substitute “without the consent of that person and the consent of the Minister (which shall not be...More Button

Deputies on Committee Stage will recall that the question of the Minister's consent to publicity for an asylum seeker was discussed at considerable length. I then indicated my willingness to consi...More Button

Amendment No. 60 in the names of Deputies O'Donnell and O'Donoghue would remove entirely from the Minister the power of consent. I find this unacceptable and could not agree to a situation where a...More Button

In addition, I could not agree to a situation where an applicant would be free to draw up publicity to his or her case by, for example, protesting outside the embassy of the home country in an atte...More Button

I am satisfied that the consent of the Minister, which may be reviewed by means of a judicial review, is the most suitable protection for the asylum seeker. In amendment No. 59, I propose to put b...More Button

I undertook to re-examine this subsection in the light of the views expressed by the Deputies on Committee Stage. Subsection (3) makes it an offence for a person to destroy or conceal identity doc...More Button

The commissioner cannot fulfil his or her role if deception is condoned. I sympathise with the spirit of the amendments. Deputies are concerned about people who may act out of the best motives and...More Button

I move amendment No. 63:More Button

In page 23, line 9, before “poses” to insert “is a person whose presence in the State”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendment No. 64 not moved.More Button

Amendment No. 66, which I tabled, addresses this matter. If a person ceases to be a refugee nonetheless the person may be deserving on humanitarian grounds to remain in the country. While I am sa...More Button

I move amendment No. 66:More Button

In page 24, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:More Button

“(7) The Minister may, at his or her discretion, grant permission in writing to a person in respect of whom a declaration has been revoked under subsection (1) to remain in the State for such peri...More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

I will reiterate three points which I made on the earlier Stages of the Bill. When the then Minister for Justice, Deputy Burke, was party to the Dublin Convention on behalf of the Republic, it was...More Button

As Deputy O'Donnell says, for the Dublin Convention to be fully ratified a motion must be put before the House. This will give an opportunity for a full debate on the convention. We are not requi...More Button

I wish to make some general points about the concern that member states may send an applicant for asylum to a third state. Intergovernmental co-operation in asylum matters between the member state...More Button

The purpose of the convention is broadly to lay down criteria for determining which member state is responsible for examining an asylum application. It is important to understand that the Dublin C...More Button

In regard to co-operating with other member states concerning asylum, the starting point for each member state is the fundamental legal instrument, the 1951 Geneva Convention. All member states ha...More Button

Many of our fellow European Union members have been faced with the reality of expressing far more practical humanitarian concern in relation to the hundreds of thousands of refugees with whom they...More Button

Starting from a common legal base, the member states have implemented national laws and practices which have removed the possibility of refusing in a discretionary manner the admission of an asylum...More Button

An underlying philosophy of the Dublin Convention is a basic confidence on the part of the member states in each other's procedures in relation to asylum law. Although of limited scope, the establ...More Button

The European Union is currently engaged in the development of a programme of harmonisation of basic asylum policy. This is an area of work which is of great importance to the whole question of mut...More Button

That resolution, which expressed the political resolve of the member states, centres on reaffirming that the important principle of non refoulement is applied. That is, an applicant for asy...More Button

The UNHCR in 1989 noted that the phenomenon of refugees or asylum seekers moving in an irregular manner from countries in which they had already found protection in order to seek asylum elsewhere ...More Button

It is right that the UNHCR seeks to make that distinction. In much of the discussion on asylum policy and asylum development in Europe there is an essential confusion for reasons I understand and ...More Button

The Dublin Convention was signed by my predecessor, Deputy Burke, when he was Minister for Justice. I am sure, in the context in which I am addressing the matter, that the amendments tabled are i...More Button

For the Dublin Convention to be effectively implemented following ratification by the Twelve, a number of measures will have to be adopted. As a general rule for implementation of the convention, ...More Button

In addition, the possibility cannot be ruled out that certain concepts might be amenable to a more precise definition. That would have to be done in the light of a specific need once the Dublin Con...More Button

I have raised this matter with the officials in my Department and with the UNHCR. We do not have the power to change the convention because we entered into it during our last Presidency, but regar...More Button

We have to look at the record of countries such a Sweden and Holland in relation to asylum and the burdens they have undertaken, and ask ourselves whether we are saying that somehow or other in rel...More Button

Refugee Bill, 1995: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage.

I move amendment No. 70:More Button

In page 26, line 24, to delete “section 17 (8)” and substitute “subsection (2) or (8) of section 17”.More Button

Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendments Nos. 71 and 72 not moved.More Button

Now.More Button

Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.More Button

I move: “That the Bill do now pass.”More Button

I thank all Members for their contributions. This Bill has had a very long passage, having been first brought before the House by the former Minister for Justice, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn. A number o...More Button

There appears to be broad acceptance of the need to address legislatively the rights and needs of asylum seekers and refugees and the provisions of this Bill, when implemented, will provide a fair...More Button

I spoke earlier of the provision of free legal aid which, as many Members said, is indicative of our fundamental attitude to and treatment of refugees and asylum seekers who should have such free l...More Button