International protection issues are not being taken seriously by Government, says TD

James O’Connor says level of violence should be ‘flashing red light’ within the Cabinet room

Members of Cabinet are not taking issues around those seeking international protection (IP) in Ireland seriously, a Fianna Fáil TD has told the Dáil.

Cork East TD James O’Connor said the level of violence and intimidation and arson attacks should be a “flashing red light” within the Cabinet room.

Mr O’Connor was speaking on Tuesday evening, as statements were heard in the chamber on the co-ordination of services for those seeking protection in Ireland. He said the public perception was that the Government’s handling of the situation was “incredibly poor” which was something that he was growing “increasingly concerned” about on a day-to-day basis.

“Threats have been made to members of the Oireachtas,” he said. “The level of violence and intimidation that is ongoing, arson and indeed other issues are something that should be a flashing red light within the Cabinet room.


“I do not think this is being taken as seriously as it should be by members of the Cabinet.”

Mr O’Connor added that the Government had failed to communicate with the public as to what policy measures were being taken around those who sought protection. He also said he did not think he was being listened to when he raised concerns.

His party colleague, John McGuinness, said if the Government had listened to the “many backbenchers” who raised the issue “over and over again at our parliamentary party meetings, we would not be here today”.

“Those of us within communities that are trying to assist and help were hampered by the fact that the Government refused to give us the information required to build services within the community to be able to deal with the numbers of people that have come in,” he said.

“I lay it squarely at the door of the Minister [for Integration Roderic O’Gorman] and the Government.”

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said local Government officials and executives were never informed of what was happening in Kilkenny regarding either IP applicants or Ukrainian families.

“They have had to fight for information and continue to do so to be informed, to provide services and assist those who are arriving,” he said.

“Still, the Department [of Integration] withholds the information, does not share it in the way it should and blames communication. When I see that being described as a failure of communication, essentially that means a crisis in terms of the failure of the Government to deliver in respect of this.”

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said he recognised there was concern about the international protection system as it stood and the means of accommodating those who come to Ireland.

Mr O’Gorman said reforms around the system had been pursued and further ones would be outlined in the coming weeks.

The Green Party TD said he wasn’t comfortable with the current situation whereby more than 700 people could not be accommodated. He said he was engaging with colleagues across Government in relation to proposals on a future accommodation strategy and would bring it to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

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Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times