Thursday 21 September 2017

Council of State to meet over asylum bill

President Michael D Higgins Photo: Arthur Carron
President Michael D Higgins Photo: Arthur Carron
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

President Michael D Higgins has convened a meeting of the Council of State to determine if the International Protection Bill should be referred to the Supreme Court.

It is only the second time President Higgins has convened a meeting of the Council since he assumed office in November 2011. The meeting will take place in Áras an Uachtaráin on December 29.

The Council of State includes the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the High Court, and the Attorney General. The Government says the bill will bring Ireland's asylum application procedures in line with other European states.

It will introduce a single application procedure to reduce the length of time that people applying for international protection spend in the system.

The Government insists the introduction of the single procedure will allow it to efficiently grant international protection to those who are entitled to it.

Debate

It would also expedite the process of identifying those who have no entitlement to remain in Ireland.

In 2013, President Higgins convened a meeting of the Council, to consider the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, following its passing by the Dáil and Seanad. Former office holders, including all surviving former Taoisigh, former presidents, and former Chief Justices, serve on the Council, plus seven of the President's own nominees.

Social campaigner Ruairí McKiernan has welcomed President Higgins's decision.

"The bill was rushed through the Dáil and Seanad earlier this month by Fine Gael and Labour, with the support of Fianna Fáil," he said.

"It was done so in an anti-democratic manner that didn't allow proper time, debate or consideration for the many concerns expressed about the effects of the proposed legislation. The bill contains elements that are harsh and inhumane."

Irish Independent

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