April 19, 2024
Government failures have left the state with a shambolic immigration system – John Brady TD

Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow, John Brady, has challenged the Secretary General for the Department of Children, Equality Disability, Integration, and Youth (DCEDIY), on the abject failure of the Minister Roderic O’Gorman and the government to put in place a fair, efficient, and enforced immigration system, designed to meaningfully engage with local communities. 

Speaking at yesterday’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Teachta Brady argued that the Minister and his government’s failures have left the state with a shambolic system which is not fit for purpose, and lets down both International Protection Applicants (IPAs) and local communities such as Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow.

The Sinn Féin TD further challenged the Secretary General Kevin McCarthy on the failure of his Department to communicate in an open and honest manner with communities and their local representatives.

Teachta Brady said:

“The failure of Minister O’Gorman and his government colleagues in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to put in place a fair, efficient, and enforced immigration system has left communities and IPAs the length and breadth of the state to cope with what can only be described as a shambolic system.

“In my own home county of Wicklow, we have a situation where the Department not only failed to adequately communicate with a local community and public representatives such as myself, who were on the ground attempting to manage the situation. 

“Instead they actively engaged in a process of deceiving the community, including myself and other representatives regarding the true intent of the Department.

“Newtownmountkennedy is the fastest growing town in the state, but lack of government investment has meant that public services and amenities have not kept pace with this growth. 

“Added to this, the fact that the government have failed to carry out community audits prior to its efforts to place IPAs there has exacerbated the challenges that the community face.

“For years the community in Newtownmountkennedy, have campaigned to have a former local HSE facility transferred to community use at River Lodge House. In this time, we were repeatedly informed by the Department that the premises were unfit for human use.

“The Minister and the Department told me, and I in turn informed the community that no decision had been taken regarding the use of the site by IPAs, while the reality being witnessed by local people was that there were diggers on the ground preparing the site, stripping back topsoil, putting in hardcore stone, along with prefabs.

“There is no escaping the fact that this was a clear attempt to hoodwink the community and its public representatives.

“At this juncture I cannot see how Minister O’Gorman continues to believe that it is in anyones interest to go ahead with the government’s current plans for Newtownmountkennedy. I believe that the Minister should bring matters to a halt.

“If this is the methodology that the Department seeks to employ, is it any wonder that local communities are reacting in anger. It needs to be said that it is the government’s actions that are fostering local anger and protests.

“The government’s approach is not working, it exposes a chaotic approach to immigration which has failed communities and International Protection Applicants. The crux of the situation is that there is no government plan for immigration.

“We need a rules-based system, with the rules actually implemented, that is a fair, efficient, and enforced system, with proper communication with communities.

“What we have seen from the government has been an absolute lack of coherence, they have bounced from crisis to crisis, failing to address any of the core issues underpinning the crisis.

“The current system takes years to process applications, with zero enforcement at the end of the day. If a decision is made to refuse the application, it is not enforced.

“There are currently 28,800 International Protection Applicants who claimed asylum in the state, over 10,800 of these have been left waiting for a decision for for 16 months or more. That is 37% of all applicants.

“This is why we have bottlenecks in the system. This is one of the many government failures contributing to the accommodation crisis for IPAs, why people are forced to live in degrading conditions in tents.

“We in Sinn Féin have consistently and vocally argued the need for a fair, efficient, and effective immigration system. With proper engagement with host communities, dealing with core issue of capacity in local services.

“There is an onus on the Minister to take into consideration the challenges the community in Newtownmountkennedy already face. Deficiencies in services and amenities that already exist within the area need to be addressed immediately.

“We urgently need to see the introduction of a fair, efficient, and enforced system of immigration, that puts the needs of people first.”

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