Doras urges politicians to avoid adopting the language of the far-right

Refugee and migrant rights organisation Doras is calling on Westmeath politicians, commentators and others with influence to avoid the use of language that sends negative messages about asylum seekers and refugees.

In recent days Doras has seen a number of politicians use terms like “illegal” that call into question the right of some people to seek international protection or asylum.

“Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right, and everyone who does so is by definition lawfully resident in our State,” says Doras CEO John Lannon.

“References by government politicians and others to people arriving illegally only add to the confusion that might exist amongst the public, and plays into the discourse of the far right. We have had gangs chanting 'get them out' and 'burn them out' outside accommodation centres with innocent people, including children, looking out in fear and confusion. This is not the type of Ireland most of us want. The government has a responsibility to keep asylum seekers safe while they are in the care of the State. With this in mind, they should communicate the rights of refugees and asylum seekers clearly through a national campaign and ensure communities are fully informed, rather than relying on what is often misinformation shared online by those with their own agendas.

“It is also important to remember that many people escaping from war, persecution or exploitation may not be in a position to present identity documents when they arrive in Ireland, such is the nature of fleeing from a war zone or a crisis. We’re talking about people we work with every day, including victims of trafficking, and those who have undertaken horrendous journeys over land and sea, which in some cases results in documents being lost or stolen. It’s the grim reality regardless of how some opportunistic voices seek to spin it”.

“We’re calling on Minister for Justice Simon Harris and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to rethink practices that could restrict access to international protection, like travelling to international airports in other countries to check people’s travel documents.”

Doras say that rather than focusing on restricting access to the international protection system in Ireland, the government should invest in putting the necessary resources in place to process asylum applications fairly, efficiently and properly.

“The announcement by Minister Harris that the government has given an extra €18m to the International Protection Office to hire staff to ensure quicker processing times for asylum seekers is welcome. However, the fact that the International Protection Appeals Tribunal which has responsibility for hearing appeal cases has fewer resources now than in 2019 is worrying and deeply revealing. This will likely result in further delays for people desperate to move on with their lives”.

“We also need to avoid misplaced commentary about asylum seekers being ‘unvetted’ in the media and elsewhere. Vetting is a process that people who work or volunteer with children and vulnerable adults go through. Asylum seekers don’t need to be vetted; their identity, where they came from, and a lot more detail is all documented in their application for international protection”.

“Protests organised or hijacked by the far right in response to the expected arrival of asylum seekers are now springing up around the country. This is despite the fact that the majority of people in Ireland are open and welcoming. Communities are key to effective integration, and must be given the resources to ensure refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed and supported.”.