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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Government Must Accept Responsibility for Immigration Crisis

https://youtu.be/VfZoevGySrw


This House must acknowledge and debate the happenings on Pearse Street, Sandwith Street and Mount Street in the past week. In recent weeks, these locations have been home to what may be described as makeshift camps populated by international protection applicants. First, it must be said that any acts of violence or aggression towards another are to be condemned in the strongest terms. No person should have to suffer fear of assault or destruction of their property in this country. As such, anything that leads to the increasing likelihood of this eventuality is to be condemned in equally strong terms. As much as the blame for the blaze ultimately lies with he who struck the match, it must be acknowledged that incidents like this do not occur in a vacuum. In the first instance, that means this is not the fault of the communities in question but of the Government that refused to make the difficult decision to implement a realistic Ukrainian refugee programme and is in denial of the realities of the housing capacity, facilities and infrastructure available to accommodate such people. We now have zero capacity to hold those present at our border petitioning for international protection, whom we are legally obliged to process. While we rightly condemn any antagonism towards the people who find themselves cast out on our streets, we must also condemn the policies and decisions of the Government that put them there. The Minister, Deputy O'Gorman, stated yesterday that we are now accommodating 84,000 people, between Ukrainians, displaced persons and the international protection applicants. At the start of last year, we were accommodating 8,500 people. What EU country could be expected to handle a more than 1,000% increase in refugees in the space of 12 months? The Cabinet does not get to pin the blame on the bogeyman of the ever present, faceless and insidious far right. This is a problem of its own making, and Ministers must own up, step up and make the difficult decisions necessary to solve it. We now have a system that treats European refugees better than others. We should help as many refugees as possible but that does not mean taking in more people than we can physically provide for. Can we please have a debate about how we can sensibly manage our refugee and integration programme, considering the civil unrest seen during the weekend, which is also happening right now in County Clare?

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