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Government to crack down on people seeking asylum for ‘economic reasons’

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The Government is to further crack down on the 60% of people who try to seek asylum here without a proper basis for doing so.

Quicker processing times of asylum applications will clamp down on people who do not meet international protection criteria and instead are coming here for economic reasons, Tánaiste Michéal Martin and Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman have said.

Mr Martin said he accepted concerns around the additional pressure  health, education and other services may come under when new asylum centres are opened in communities.

What people want to see is an efficient and effective system here, which we have, to make sure that those who are not entitled to come are dealt with expeditiously.

“But then also that those who are seeking refuge from war and from intolerable oppression and so on, are facilitated,” the Tánaiste said.

Mr O’Gorman added he expected the numbers of Ukrainians arriving in Ireland to fall in the coming weeks when new rules come into force that will reduce supports to just 90 days of State accommodation.

“Arrivals from Ukraine are down and I think when we bring in the new system later on this month, I think we will see that trend continuing,” Mr O’Gorman said.

There are now 75,000 Ukrainians living in Ireland, having fled Russia’s aggression. The Dáil recently signed off on changes that will see weekly payments to newly-arrived Ukrainian refugees go from €220 to €38.80 when they are staying in State accommodation.

Turning to the wider area of international protection, Mr O’Gorman said the system was not fit for purpose even before the war in Ukraine and uptick in people seeking asylum here from other countries.

The minister is due to bring forward a revised white paper in the coming weeks, which will include provisions to reduce the reliance on private accommodation through building or acquiring large-scale State reception centres.

“We know about 40% of people who go through the international protection system are able to prove that they are being persecuted and they meet the criteria and about 60% of people don’t meet those particular criteria.”

He said Justice Minister Helen McEntee had made significant changes to streamline the process and has added a number of extra countries to the list of ‘safe countries’.

“It is important that we have a system that quickly processes people’s applications but maintains that individual examination of a person’s situation.”

He told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Show international protection had to be for people fleeing war, conflict and persecution.

We know there are people fleeing their country for economic reasons. Irish people did it for generations, and it’s happening elsewhere as well. I don’t judge anybody for doing that. 

“I don’t judge anybody for wanting to make a better life for themselves. But if they’re coming to Ireland, there are other mechanisms in terms of work permits and the like.”

Mr O’Gorman said it was now very important to provide the gardaí with the “space” to fully investigate recent arson attacks so they can prosecute those who carry out criminal acts on buildings rumoured to be earmarked for asylum seekers.

“I’m confident that An Garda Síochána are putting in place the full resources that they need to fully investigate and bring forward successful prosecutions.”

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