Irish Republican News · February 4, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Human rights groups slam new Irish immigration law

Controversial new immigration laws is being rushed through the Dublin Parliament despite widespread criticism from opposition parties and human rights groups.

The legislation is being amended after the High Court ruled that some sections were unconstitutional.

The first draft of the new Bill, allowing immigration officers to refuse entry to people suffering from a mental disorder, was later amended to a definition of those suffering from ``profound mental disturbance'' showing signs of psychotic disturbance with agitation, delirium, hallucinations or confusion.

Opposition parties and disabled rights' groups said the amendments did not go far enough.

They attacked Justice Minister Michael McDowell for rushing the Bill through the parliamentary process and warned it could allow discrimination against, for example, people suffering from autism or Down's syndrome.

Initial plans to rush the legislation through the parliament last week were abandoned after opposition parties objected to the speed of the move.

After vigorous protests, debate on the bill will continue in the Dail [lower chamber] tomorrow.

On Friday evening, the amended Bill passed through the Senate chamber in just two hours despite an opposition walk-out.

Amnesty International, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Irish Refugee Council, the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Schizophrenia Association of Ireland have all spoken out against the Bill and called for further discussion on it.

It was also pointed out the Bill would prevent former political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, from visiting Ireland.

Independent Senator Joe O'Toole said he was ashamed to have any hand, act or part in what they were doing. The attack on mental illness in the legislation went beyond anything he had every seen.

The Government proposal meant that people with significant intellectual disability could be refused entry into the State.

``If this Bill was introduced 50 years ago it would be described as naked fascism, that people with disabilities were being refused their rights by a sovereign and democratic government. It is more than I can stand for. This Bill is rooted in an Aryan philosophy that would be worthy of Nazism at its worst,'' he said.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News