- Senator Sharon Keogan
Senator Sharon Keogan — Government must address Immigration Problem
Updated: Feb 15
It is good to see the Cathaoirleach in the Chair today. Having come back from our Christmas break, we should waste no time beating around the bush. We need to address the single most important issue in this country at the moment: the Government's unsustainable immigration policy and what the Government's response will be to the public's reaction to its failure. As protests continue across the country, the Government must decide what its response will be. Will it double down, insisting that the policies in question are correct and above reproach, and have the State's media dismiss dissent and denounce concerned citizens as unwitting victims of brainwashing by nefarious overseas forces, or will it listen to the concerns of the people, engage in dialogue and be willing to at least entertain the notion that something it is doing might be wrong?
There is an entire generation of Irish people who have never known this country not to be in a housing crisis. Every week, you see tweets from young people saying that all of their friends are emigrating, most citing a lack of housing as the primary, if not the only, reason. At the same time, more than 70,000 recipients of temporary protection have entered the country, having been invited by a Government that refuses to cap the number of applicants in denial of the country's logistical capacity to accommodate them. Some of these people ended up sleeping in tents in military camps. Those who flagged this ahead of time were decried as being uncaring, unsympathetic and even xenophobic. Over roughly the same period, from 2021 to 2023, the number of people living in international protection accommodation services, IPAS, direct provision accommodation has more than doubled from 7,000 to over 19,000. The vast majority of these applicants for international protection are from Georgia, north Africa and sub-Saharan countries that are not engaged in any international conflict. In 2021, the Government said that it would end direct provision. Last week, the Minister, Deputy O'Gorman, stated that Ireland will not be able to find accommodation for all of the refugees and asylum seekers arriving here in the coming weeks. A few months ago, this fact would have been viewed as dangerous right-wing rhetoric. Will the Leader please let us have a debate on this issue in the House so that it can be openly debated? Let us look after the people who have come into this country.