A conversation with close friends turned to new Irish citizens. My friends said the people recently conferred with Irish citizenship in the mass ceremonies organised by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter (some 16,000 to date) should be, and were, grateful. Shatter is to be congratulated for dealing with the backlog and, according to Metro Eireann, the majority of the new citizens were pleased with the process. Being granted citizenship is no doubt a bonus for people hitherto unable to travel freely. However, citizenship is entirely at the discretion of the Minister, there are no clear qualification criteria and no obligation to provide reasons for refusals. When I argued against the high cost of citizenship in Ireland – of which more later – I failed to persuade them, because citizenship, my friends insisted, is something valuable ‘we’ bestow upon ‘them’. Read more
The death a couple of weeks ago of Immanuel Marcel Landa, an elderly Congolese man, in Mosney, the 49th person to die in the direct provision system since 2000, focused my mind, yet again, on the invisible plight of Ireland’s asylum seekers. Ireland’s impetus to control asylum seekers rarely links the conflict zones which produce asylum seekers with their human consequences. Instead, the racial state demonises asylum seekers, stems their flow, often preventing them from landing to present their applications, all in order to regain control.
Asylum applications in Ireland have been going down ever since their peak in 2002 at 11,634; the number of applications received in 2011, 1,250, represented a 28% decrease on the corresponding figure of 1,939 in 2010. In 2012 (by June) only 458 asylum applications were made. The government seems delighted with the decrease in asylum applications. In 2010 Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern commended ‘the ongoing work within INIS, including the asylum agencies, to combat abuse while at the same time ensuring fairness and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of procedures in this area’. At 1.5% at first instance and 6% on appeal, Ireland is distinguished by the lowest acceptance rate in the EU, where the average is 27%. Read more