Warning that people living illegally in the UK could collapse Irish asylum system after Brexit 'verging on hysterical' says Irish Refugee Council
A new report, which warned that an influx of “illegals” into Ireland post-Brexit could “sink” the asylum system, has been dubbed “verging on hysterical” by the Irish Refugee Council.
The briefing, prepared for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, warned that any perceived tightening of UK immigration controls could prompt people living illegally in the UK to look across the Irish Sea instead.
It also said even the smallest changes in Ireland's system of direct provision had the potential to "sink the asylum system" here.
But this morning, Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, called the report “wild.”
He also claimed that post Brexit, the Irish State will have “a number of powers” to move people back to the UK, if they have previously resided there.
“The International Protection Law allows the Irish state to remove people back to the UK if they previously had the permission to stay in the UK. We do think there is an element of possible hysteria to this report,” he said.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Henderson said that he would ask the Government to be a bit “cautious” in their approach, and encouraged planning.
“We do think that planning is a good thing; that’s one of the problems with the current asylum situation, that the Government has tended to be quite reactionary and does things on an emergency basis.”
The report said that in the UK there was an estimated population of between 400,000 and 800,000 of "illegal" nationals from outside the European Economic Area.
"Taking the midpoint of that range, even if only 1pc were to come to Ireland and claim asylum, it would mean an additional 6,000 applicants.
"This would literally sink the asylum system, putting massive pressures on other State services, such as housing," it said.
But Mr Henderson said that he questions whether “these people will want to come to Ireland.”
“Many people in the UK have particular, unique, connections to that country and would wish to stay there,” he said.
In 2015, asylum applications in Ireland rose by a third, mostly from Pakistan and India, these were people who "either were illegal in the UK or whose immigration permission was about to run out there".
“That was a phenomenon that happened in 2015,” said Mr Henderson. “From our records, it hasn’t been continued.”
Speaking about the suggestions that the Supreme Court decision last May, which granted asylum seekers the Right to Work, may “cause a spike” in the number of people coming to Ireland, he said: “You don’t see that in the figures. There have been 1600 people claiming asylum in Ireland this year.
“In the last ten years, it has been on an average 2,200 people per year. Now, we’re just over halfway through this year at 1600 people. That’s maybe just above average, but not a particular spike.”
Mr Henderson said that the Irish asylum system is “not that prone to fluctuations that are as wild as those suggested by the report.”
“Let’s remember as well, that the Right to Work that was given to people by the Supreme Court in May last year- we were the last EU country to give, or acknowledge that right,” Mr Henderson said.
“It’s not as if we’re the only country that has done so, and people around Europe will turning their head and looking to Ireland, thinking maybe we should go there.”
He also said: “Ireland is a small country at the edge of Europe, and we should be provide to be giving asylum to people.”
Mr Henderson added that he is “concerned about the language in the report.”
“There is a long standing right to claim asylum under international human rights law,” he told Independent.ie. “The term ‘illegals’ is both derogatory and inaccurate.”
Independent.ie has reached out to the Department of Justice for a comment.