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Asylum Seekers

Refugees from 'safe' countries must have their cases heard fairly, says immigration lawyer

Junior Minister Sean Fleming also said that people coming from countries deemed safe may have genuine reason to seek asylum.

ASYLUM SEEKERS ARRIVING in Ireland from countries deemed ‘safe’ may have genuine reason to seek refugee status and have the right to have their cases heard fairly, an immigration lawyer has said.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio today, Stephen Kirwan said that individuals coming from countries such as South Africa, Georgia or Albania may be victims of domestic abuse, persecution due to LGBT identity or blood feuds.

He said in these cases, there may be “the impulse to not apply fair procedures.

There have been instances in numerous jurisdictions, he added, where “even though [countries] are deemed to be safe, are presumed, to be that there are absolutely individual circumstances whereby refugee status should be granted and has been granted.”

Speaking on the same programme, Sean Fleming, a junior minister in the Department of Foreign Affairs, agreed that such cases existed but “Ireland is entitled to have a reasonable period to deal with a major decision.

“Europe has always had a policy of protecting its borders … certain countries in Europe are seen as a gateway from other continents, and EU and countries like Turkey have long standing agreements in place to deal with those issues, so that there’s not a free flow [of migrants] into the EU. That has always been a European policy.”

Arriving without documents

Kirwan said that the issue of refugees landing in Ireland with no documents was often a result of human trafficking.

“One thing that, certainly, we see on the coalface is a huge prevalence of trafficking claims where someone would pay someone, possibly in some cases under false pretences, to get them out of a very dangerous situation.

“They’re handed a false passport. That passport is then handed over to the trafficker before they get to Dublin airport. Then they arrive at the terminal and are faced with with not having documents.

“So I don’t think it is the narrative that’s portrayed by some people in the media, that there’s people boarding a Ryanair flight without a passport. That just doesn’t happen.”


Towns and villages across the country have seen a string of anti-immigration protests in recent months, during which the phrase “Ireland is full” has regularly trended on Twitter.

Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke said the “vast majority” of residents’ concerns were fair, and “genuine questions are being ignored.”

She said the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) was understaffed and accused the government of failing to address the shortage.

“There are absolute frustrations within communities the length and breadth of this country. They are well-founded frustrations.

“We have a very small number of people who are in that negative political space. What many people are objecting to is the fact that their government simply aren’t hearing what they’re saying.”

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