Asylum policy – a major issue for voters

Politicians need to take responsibility for their mistakes

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – In his analysis of the issues facing voters in the upcoming elections, on the question of asylum policy, Pat Leahy tells us that in 2021 the Minister for Integration sent out a series of tweets in multiple languages announcing the end of the direct provision system and welcoming to Ireland those people seeking international protection (“Three things to watch in the upcoming elections”, Opinion & Analysis, May 18th). The subsequent Government White Paper promised asylum seekers keys to their own homes.

Bizarrely, two of the languages chosen by the Minister for his communication were Albanian and Georgian. In 2018, by way of a statutory instrument, these two countries were declared by the Minister for Justice to be safe countries of origin, the definition of which is that there is no persecution, no torture, no inhumane or degrading treatment or no threat of violence from an armed conflict in that country.

In 2022, asylum applications in Ireland rose by over 400 per cent compared to an EU average increase of 64 per cent. Some form of international protection was afforded to 80 per cent of applicants in Ireland as opposed to an average of 49 per cent in other European countries. Over 200 Albanians applied for asylum, a 200 per cent increase on 2021. Applications from Georgian citizens rose dramatically from just over 300 in 2021 to 2,700 in 2022, making Georgia the top country of origin.

The huge problems now facing the country in accommodating asylum seekers can be traced directly to those policy decisions.

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At a time when Oireachtas committees quite rightly seek explanations for serious mismanagement by public bodies, surely it is now time for our politicians to take responsibility for their mistakes in what can be at least a first step in trying to find a solution to what is now a major issue for voters. – Yours, etc,

MARTIN McDONALD,

Terenure,

Dublin 12.

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