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Bring an end to tent encampments and deport asylum seekers that commit crime - FF migration report

The report also calls for legislation to create the criminal offence of destroying identification documentation when entering the country.

AN INTERNAL FIANNA Fáil policy document on migration sets out the need to bring an end to tent encampments and calls for asylum seekers that commit crime to be deported. 

The report seen by The Journal, which was carried out by TD John Lahart on behalf of the party, also calls for  legislation to create the criminal offence of destroying identification documentation when entering the country.

The internal policy document also puts forward the idea that any applicant who has already been refused an asylum application in another EU member state should automatically be refused an application in Ireland.

Speaking to reporters at the Fianna Fáil party Ard Fheis in Dublin today, Fianna Fail senator Lisa Chambers said she  agreed that asylum seekers and people granted refugee status in Ireland who commit a crime should be deported.

Chambers said there is “nothing stopping us” from deporting a person who commits a crime in the state.

Chambers, who is part of Fianna Fail’s ticket for the Midlands-North-West European Parliament elections, went further and said that it should also apply to those who have been granted asylum.

“If a blockage arises, we need to address it. Anybody that comes into this country, whether they’re seeking asylum or have been granted refugee status, if you break the law, you need to be sent back.

“That’s what the public are asking us for. If it’s an indictable offence, I think if it’s a serious offence, that needs to be looked at, that’s what we’re hearing on the ground, people want this taken seriously.

“If somebody comes in and commits a very serious crime that needs to be dealt with,” Chamber said. 

Lahart was tasked with drawing up the report, which is due to be discussed next week’s parliamentary party meeting, after a number of TDs and senators raised concerns about migration issues at previous party meetings.

Actions that are outlined in the report include calling for an “end the use of tents on streets and assign the responsibility for moving anyone setting up in tents to a single agency if necessary”. 

In addition, it states that local authorities should carry out an audit of all local hospitality capacity which has been lost non-hospitality accommodation. 

Impact on towns and villages 

The report states that Fianna Fáil parliamentary party members from across Ireland outlined “genuine concern” regarding the impact on local businesses in their cities, towns, and villages due to the “utilisation of a significant amount, and in many cases the only available, hospitality venues and premises for accommodating refugees and migrants”.

“This situation is untenable and unsustainable in certain areas, while many parts of the country remain largely unaffected by the consequences of such a rapid influx of migrants,” it states. 

Members raised concerns about the economic impact on their local towns due to the closure of hospitality venues. The duration of this loss was unforeseen, as many initially assumed it would be temporary.

In cities, it was noted that the loss of a significant volume of bed nights could be invisible to the public.

Businesses approaching government 

Ministers present at party meetings noted that in many cases, departments of state didn’t
seek out providers of premises, but that business-owners approached government
offering their premises for use, the report noted.

It added: “If a hotel or hospitality venue is offered by its owner, then government should do its best to ensure that hospitality facilities remain available to the local public/community in terms of meeting rooms, restaurants, and function rooms etc. This would particularly be the case if the venue is the primary venue in a town or village.”

The policy document states that it is essential that as soon as an applicant is processed successfully, they are permitted to join the workforce enabling them to contribute positively and productively to society.

Other steps outlined included prioritising family reunification by reducing visa backlogs and enhancing the process for family-based immigration, ensuring that family members can be reunited in a timely manner.

It also called for the promotion of integration by assisting immigrants in learning English, accessing education and job training, and integrating into their communities.

Appointing Integration Officers at local authority level was also called for to coordinate interagency efforts and for communication with elected members and the public.

Some parliamentary party members believe that “payments for those already in Ireland have to be re-examined also”, the document noted.

“Needless to say, we have to show compassion in cases also, such as single or alone parents here without their partner who are trying to take care of their children,” it concluded. 

The report comes after the European Parliament voted to approve the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum earlier this week.

The new rules include controversial measures – facial images and fingerprints could be taken from children from the age of six, and people may be detained during screening.

Fianna Fail MEP Barry Andrews said today that he believes the overall pact requires an update the International Protection Act and if it has any implications for criminal law, that will also have to be dealt with in legislation.

“So it’ll be a matter for the Dáil, the Seanad and the European Parliament.

“We know for example, that there was a report just last week as well about an applicant who appeared without documents and he was jailed for a period of time.

“So this happens already. It’s already provision in law and I think the overall message here is that we have to get the balance right between protecting the human rights of people who are fleeing a well-founded fear of persecution, while also restoring public trust in migration management, not just in Ireland, but across the European Union,” he said.