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Simon Harris

Harris says decision-making process for those seeking asylum will be accelerated

People seeking asylum will have decisions on their application made more quickly, the justice minister said.

LAST UPDATE | 4 Feb 2023

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE Simon Harris has said that the decision-making process around the processing of applications for people seeking asylum will be accelerated, including the deportation of people who are not granted leave to stay. 

Speaking on RTE’s Six One News, Harris said over 6oo deportation orders had been issued since September of 2022 and 128 had been issued since the start of the year. 

“We’re working to make sure applications are accelerated more quickly,” Harris said.

“So, if you come to our country and you have a right for protection, you’ll get that certainty quicker – but if you come to our country illegally and you don’t you’ll get asked to leave quicker.”

He said Ireland was a fair and compassionate country and that the coalition wanted to make sure that anyone fleeing persecution could seek refuge. He added that the State operates within a rules-based system and stressed that the rules would be applied fairly and efficiently. 

Earlier today Labour leader Ivana Bacik said that the government needs to launch a public information campaign to combat hate speech attacking asylum seekers.

Bacik, Aontu leader Peadar Tóibín and Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill discussed the government’s communication to the public with regard to the accommodation of asylum seekers on RTÉ’s Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin.

“There is a frustration at the lack of information from government,” Bacik said.

“I’ve experienced this directly, that there is a small number of far right groups who are exploiting the information vacuum to stir up fear and distrust among communities.”

She added that a junior ministerial position should be created specifically for the accommodation of asylum seekers.

“We need to see a NPHET-style response to this. We need to see the Taoiseach stepping up and a big public information campaign.”

Peadar Tóibín stated that there was a difference between “ethno-nationalist” protesters using violent rhetoric in relation to asylum seekers, and people “angry around the lack of consultation.”

The Meath West TD added that people feel as though they “are not being told what’s happening in their own communities.”

Carroll MacNeill also stated that some of her constituents had spoken to her about what she believed were conspiracy theories related to asylum seekers on Facebook.

“I’ve picked up on something repeatedly, even from people within the same estate and with the same profile, and it’s clear to me from what was being suggested that there’s no way they thought of it independently. They both saw this same thing on Facebook that morning and raised with me.”

“Another thing I think is interesting is, and it’s irrespective of the type of community, people just want more information about who’s coming,” she continued.

“For example, I was saying, ‘we’ve got this number of people who have come from Ukraine, a third of them are children.’ 15,000 children are in school, that’s 92% of the kids that are here.”

“12,000 of the Ukrainians that have arrived are working.”

“People think of refugees or asylum seekers as other people. They forget there’s so many children, there’s people trying to work, people wanting to work, they forget people who are in school,” Carroll MacNeill said.

- With reporting by Daragh Brophy 

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