THE PRESIDENT HAS signed new asylum legislation into law.
In a brief statement this evening, the Arás said:
In accordance with the terms of the Constitution, President Michael D. Higgins has today, 30 December, signed the International Protection Bill 2015 into law.
He had convened the Council of State yesterday to discuss the Bill which was rushed through the Dáil before Christmas.
Concerns were raised over the International Protection Bill, designed to reduce the length of time asylum applicants spend in the protection process, including direct provision, by establishing a single applications procedure.
Under the new law, there would be a single application procedure for protection which would include applications for refugee status, subsidiary protection and leave to remain.
A Council of State meeting allows the president to refer legislation to the Supreme Court for scrutiny, following a meeting with a number of officials including the Taoiseach, the President of the High Court, and the Attorney General, along with anyone who has previously held the position of President, Taoiseach or Chief Justice, and several appointed members.
It is only the second time Higgins has invoked Article 26 of the Constitution since taking office.
Labour backbencher Michael McNamara was kicked out of the Dáil over his objections to the guillotining of the Bill, and said it restricts the ability of people fleeing persecution to be joined by family members.
In a statement last week, Sinn Féin said the Bill fails to protect children and minors travelling alone and opens the door for fast-track deportations, with Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh describing it as “baffling” that so many recommendations of the government’s own working group were ignored.
It was also jointly opposed by the Irish Refugee Council, the Irish Immigrant Support centre (Nasc), and refugee support group Doras Luimní.
With reporting by Nicky Ryan and Hugh O’Connell