Seanad debates

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Family Reunification Policy

2:30 pm

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I am always happy to meet the Senator, in particular on a serious issue such as this. I reiterate that for security reasons and to uphold the integrity of the Irish immigration system, a number of checks and balances must be completed by the Irish authorities before a travel document can issue. Our rigorous policies and procedures are in line with those in operation in other EU member states. As the Senator will be aware, UNHCR Ireland worked with us to design and implement the IHAP programme as part of the wider IRPP, which, as I said, earlier is unique to Ireland.

The Irish immigration service cannot involve its staff members, their relatives or associates of the intended recipient or third parties in the delivery of documents to locations that would require such persons to put themselves at risk to effect that delivery. Herein lies the problem. As mentioned by the Senator, Idlib is under bombardment such that the people concerned cannot get out to get the documents and our officials cannot get in. It is an impossible, extraordinarily difficult and awful situation. The Minister and I appreciate that some refugee programme beneficiaries in Syria encounter difficulties in accessing travel documents and may be impeded by conflicting authorities in the region.It is not easy. However, as I have already stated, persons who cannot obtain documents from the relevant authorities in their country of origin may, in very urgent circumstances, approach the International Committee of the Red Cross for assistance. I am glad to hear that is being explored, as the Senator has said. The Minister believes the current system is the most robust and pragmatic means to facilitate travel to Ireland for those refugees in Syria who are in need of urgent international protection.


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