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File photo of Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin not seeking to outsource processing of asylum seeker applications to other countries

“Genuine” concerns about migration have been “weaponised” by some people, says McDonald.

MARY LOU MCDONALD has said she is not in favour of outsourcing the processing of asylum seeker applications to other countries.

In the view of the Sinn Féin leader, Ireland should focus on better resourcing at home and enforcing rules already in place around migration.

On the rise of anti-immigration sentiment among the public – including some Sinn Féin voters – McDonald said the “weariness” is understandable.

“People are really under pressure because government has abjectly failed to have a plan in respect of dealing with immigration,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“Either Sinn Féin get our chance to be in government to deliver change … or you’re looking at five more years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. 

“That prospect is certainly one that fills people with dread.”

McDonald dodged questions about her party’s significant slip in the polls.

The latest by Ireland Thinks/Sunday Independent has Sinn Féin on 22% – the same as Fine Gael – while Independents and Others are one point ahead at 23%.

Days out from local and European parliament elections, she insists there is still an “impatience for change”.

On the doors, the Irish Times had reported that Sinn Féin candidates were called “traitors” and “sellouts”, but McDonald says this is “not standard practice” while canvassing.

The tensions arising around migration, she says, are “on the government, not on us”.

She claims there is a “noisy minority” of people who are outright anti-immigration but that “no community is looking to veto” the housing of asylum seekers in their locality.

“I understand on a human level in those circumstances when people then see and hear lots more people coming, more pressure on the systems, a government with no plan … that causes an anxiety.”

This “genuine” concern, she says, has been “weaponised” by some.


While McDonald says her party seeks to find “appropriate” housing for people seeking protection in Ireland, she does not want to create a discussion of “person versus person”.

“We live in a situation now where people at work – nurses, people working in retail, in factories – have no real prospect of buying or affording their own home.

“There are people who earn too much to be on the social housing list and don’t qualify for a council house if there was one to be got, but equally they can’t get a mortgage to buy their home at runaway prices.”

The answer, McDonald says, is a tailored scheme for these people, which she believes is possible through the use of public land by the government, which would take on land development costs.

Houses in her proposed scheme would cost in the region of €300,000, well-below the government’s current so-called affordable housing prices of more than €400,000.

McDonald says this won’t mean €300,000 houses in the leafy suburbs of Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 however.

The cost of such a scheme would fall on taxpayers. 

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