Human Rights in Ireland is pleased to bring you this guest post from Claire McCarthy, Policy & Campaigning Officer, at Nasc, The Irish Immigrant Support Centre.
Ireland’s human rights record will be examined by our peers in the UN this coming October, when our turn comes up in a new UN process called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Human rights organisations have submitted their concerns and recommendations for the consideration of the country representatives who will examine our record. Having examined most of them, the reception of asylum seekers appears to be by far the most widespread concern, affecting as it does children’s rights, women’s rights, mental health, social inclusion and general civil liberties. A range of organisations concerned with Ireland’s human rights standards have already made submissions that will inform the country representatives who will ask questions, and make recommendations to Ireland about how we might improve our human rights record. Some of those organisations have taken the opportunity presented by the UPR to consult with as many concerned citizens as possible in order to prepare truly representative submissions. You may have Continue reading “Universal Periodic Review and Reception of Asylum Seekers”
So-called ‘sham’ marriages are in the news again. At the beginning of the month, British newspapers carried the story of Rev. Alex Brown, who conducted hundreds of marriages designed to enable individuals to circumvent immigration regulations. Two further vicars have since been arrested on suspicion of similar offences as the UK Border Agency continues its ‘crackdown’ on marriages of convenience. Here in Ireland, Denis Prior, the superintendent marriage registrar for the HSE eastern area claims that up to 15% of civil marriages contracted in Ireland are ‘shams’ aimed at circumventing immigration law. I blogged about Irish efforts to close the so-called ‘marriage loophole’ back in January when the media began to report the Garda National Immigration Bureau’s initiative ‘Operation Charity‘. The Operation involves the Bureau in objecting to marriages under s. 58 of the Civil Registration Act 2004. A couple intending to get married must have notified the registrar of that intention 3 months prior to the ceremony – which gives time for an objection to be lodged with the registrar. An objection triggers a minor or more serious investigation, depending on the content of the objection. The gardai have lodged objections to 57 marriages in the last nine months. However, the existing legislation at most empowers registrars to investigate whether an impediment to marriage exists which the couple have not declared and it is not an impediment to marriage that the couple are marrying for immigration purposes. The Office of the Civil Registrar, therefore, has adopted an appropriately cautious approach to Operation Charity, though it appears to support the initiative in principle. There is no offence under Irish law of contracting a marriage of convenience, and so Operation Charity instead involves the gardai in investigating participants in the hopes of discovering ancillary offences, such as bigamy or immigration offences, some of which have grounded the detention and deportation of would-be husbands. Continue reading “Preventing Marriages of Convenience in Ireland”
On July 2, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform published the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010. The Bill incorporates amendments to the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008. The Irish Times reports that:
Among the provisions included in the new Bill, which is expected to be introduced before autumn, is the fast-tracking of asylum procedures and appeals.
The new Bill has a provision enabling the Minister for Justice to disregard so-called “marriage of conveniences,” where individuals have been found to have married so that one or both of them can stay in the country.
It also includes changes covering the dependents of long-term residents, enabling them to have certain benefits previously not allowed. There are also alternatives to arrest and detention of some non-Irish nationals found to be in the country illegally and changes to the types of benefits and services they are entitled to.
Also included are new rules enabling the collection of biometric data on individuals. The Bill also extends the period of time allowed for victims of trafficking to recover from 45 to 60 days.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has once more drawn attention to the absence of proper provision for family reunification within the new Bill. We will provide more indepth analysis of the Bill by blog carnival in the autumn. You can read our coverage of the past year’s issues in Irish immigration law here.
For now, the new Bill must be read against recent developments in Meath, where asylum seekers protested a government decision – prompted by a value for money audit – to relocate 150 of their number from the direct provision centre at Mosney to hostel accommodation in Dublin (the government maintains that the asylum seekers are simply declining to exercise the option offered to them of relocating to be with friends and family). As of today, it seems that the protest has been successful up to a point, and that although buses have been sent to Mosney to facilitate removal of people to Dublin, nobody will be compelled to board them. See a selection of media coverage here, here here here here and here. The Guardian picked up on the story here and here. As is evidenced by newspaper coverage, a worrying discourse of economic ‘efficiency’ is to the fore in Irish discussions of weaknesses within the asylum system. A humanitarian counter-discourse is also in evidence but, as the Irish Times reports here, the government seems determined to ignore it.
An international conference entitled Gender Equality, Citizenship and Multiculturalism will be held on Friday September 10th 2010 in the Brookfield Health Sciences, Room G04, University College Cork, from 10.15am- 5.30pm Speakers include: Anne Phillips (London School of Economics) (Keynote Speaker), Audrey Macklin (University of Toronto), Javaid Rehman (Brunel University, London), Salome Mbugua (AkidWa), Maireme Helie-Lucas (Women Living Under Muslim Laws), Betty de Hart (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen), Maleiha Malik (King’s College London), Catherine Cosgrove (Immigrant Council of Ireland), Siobhan Mullally (University College Cork), Mairead Enright (University of Kent), Eoin Daly (University College Cork), Susan McKay (National Women’s Council of Ireland) and Penelope Andrews (City University of New York).
For inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for registration forms and programme
This conference forms part of an IRCHSS-funded project, Gender, Religious Diversity and Multiculturalism (PI Dr. Siobhán Mullally, Law, UCC).
Registration Fee €45, Student Fee €20 (includes light lunch and refreshments)
CPD points: 7 hours (group study)