Immigration Bill 2004 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill has had to be introduced at short notice, but society cannot proceed without statutory controls or without powers for gardaí to deal with situations they encounter on a daily basis. We cannot have a situation where gardaí are unable to monitor the presence of non-nationals in the State. The Minister and the Government could not agree to that, hence the rush in introducing the legislation in the manner outlined by the Minister. He is not going to introduce a Nazi-type immigration regime; the regime to be put in place will have a lot in common with those in most of our European partner states.

There are practical implications for almost 130,000 non-nationals who live in the State, the vast majority of whom are here legally and are very welcome. There are 128,000 non-nationals currently registered with the gardaí and the laws under which they are registered are now seriously undermined by virtue of the High Court decision of 22 January. The aim of this Bill is to correct that situation.

It is no coincidence that in recent years we have had an influx of non-nationals into Ireland given the improvement in our economy and the very generous social welfare package available to both citizens and non-nationals. It is no surprise that so many of them have flocked to our shores, particularly in the last ten years. The introduction of better screening of individuals by immigration officials at air and sea ports means that those numbers have fallen somewhat in recent years. Challenges in our courts, some of which have gone to the Supreme Court, have also contributed to changing the perception in certain countries that Ireland was a place to come for easy money and accommodation. That change in perception has resulted in a significant fall in the numbers seeking to come to Ireland.

We have a proud record in dealing with refugees and this Bill will not reflect badly on that record. Anyone who has travelled to the United States, or any other country to which Irish people were forced to emigrate, is impressed by the difficulties Irish people had to overcome in their travels, particularly in the 19th century. During the Famine, hundreds of thousands of Irish people were forced to emigrate and some of themdid not make it to new homes in the promised land due to their poor physical condition on arrival.

Civil liberties groups have commented on the Bill and I commend the Minister on his commitment to take on board any Opposition amendments which will strengthen or enhance the Bill. Whatever about the speed with which the Bill is being introduced, strengthening it with worthwhile amendments is welcome.

The Minister said that even if the State wins its appeal to the Supreme Court, in the intervening period immigration law is in a state of uncertainty, in particular the power to exercise controls over the entry of non-nationals into the State and the length of their stay. It is not within the Minister's powers to continue to implement an Act which the High Court has declared unconstitutional. He has outlined his intention to be open and inclusive in dealing with Opposition amendments on Committee Stage.

There has been much criticism of individuals with criminal records in other countries coming to Ireland, where they are refused admission. The legislation is clear on this, as is the Minister. We should not be seen as a safe haven for criminals who are forced, or encouraged, to leave their own states to seek refuge here where they can continue the trade in which they have made their name. The Minister is correct in stating that people who have been convicted of criminal offences up to a certain degree of seriousness, will be refused entry to the State. Individuals who present themselves at our ports are not being asked to submit to a draconian regime. Our code is less stringent than in many other countries.

The High Court judgment has serious implications for the law as it stands for non-nationals presenting here until this sovereign Parliament enacts legislation. I wish the Bill a speedy passage and ask for it to be supported by all sides of the House. The Opposition should take the Minister at his word and accept his bona fides when he says that worthwhile proposals or amendments will be taken on board.

It is an acknowledged rule of public speaking that one does not begin on a negative note. However, this Dáil schedule has left me no choice.

This month's Dáil schedule and the way the Bill is being handled is both insulting and disappointing. I thought that during the Christmas break Government Members might get their ears cleaned and start listening to us, but they did not do so. They are still not listening. I thought Santa Claus might deliver hearing aids to them, but he failed to deliver as well. They must not have opened the doors for him.

This is a new Dáil session and the Opposition is not being listened to on simple matters. We put forward suggestions but we were not listened to. We asked for more time and we were not given it. We asked for debate on certain topics but this was not granted.

We represent the people as much as the Members of the Government parties. We cannot make decisions because we were not given the power to do so, but we are here to represent the people. We should be listened to more often, not treated in this way.

As a new person in politics, I am still unimpressed by the way this place works and it is getting worse by the day. I do not expect the Minister to change it single-handedly, but he is part of a Government that can change it. If he were on this side of the House, he would shout more than we do.

I was interested in the Deputy's description of himself as a "new party" in politics.

I said, a "new person". A person is also a party.

It is the Meath pronunciation.

The Progressive Democrats is new too. There is still a shine off the party.

I stand before the House discussing the important issue of immigration and find the House dilly-dallying with the subject, using legislation the courts will probably find flawed. There are so many other pressing problems that should concern us. I do not doubt there is need for a stop-gap Bill and that this needs to be implemented urgently. However, we should not implement one that is makeshift, which has changed two or three times already.

The Minister has tabled some 20 amendments and the Opposition has tabled up to 90 amendments. This is hardly legislation that will stand up in the courts. I have great concerns about it. If it were so urgent we could have come in on Saturday and Sunday. I would not have any problem working over the weekend, but the Bill before us was ready last Tuesday or Wednesday. If the Minister really wanted to get it right, why not give it the proper time rather than pushing it through by means of a guillotine measure?

The sad part of all this is that we all know it, yet we still have to go through with the Bill. We cannot cop-on and stop it now and come back in a week or two when it has been done properly.

What has this Chamber achieved in the nearly three sitting weeks? Where are the properly finished legislative measures that will make a real difference to this problem and to many other problems? Where is the legislation that will save people's lives or way of living, stop multinational companies relocating abroad, and put extra beds in our hospitals so people in need of medical care do not spend their last days or hours on trolleys waiting for a bed, or worse, dying shortly after being discharged.

As a result of a court finding, the Minister has tried to rush this unfinished work through the House in two weeks. Will the deaths of young people in and out of the country's hospitals in recent days spur the Minister or the Government to use similar speed to address the many well-documented health problems or the carnage on our roads? What will the Minister have done about these problems in two weeks' time, or even two years? I will not hold my breath. I am here nearly two years and these problems have not yet been addressed. They have hardly been discussed in the House, among many other pressing needs. Do court decisions take priority over people's health and their very lives? Do people's lives mean anything to the Government, apart from as statistics that can be moved around to suit whatever message it wishes to spin that day?

When will we learn that rushed legislation is bad legislation? I ask that the legislation be withdrawn and replaced with an appropriate one, on which we can all have a say and over which we can stand. If not, the House will again be made to look foolish in the courts. A good read of Bunreacht na hÉireann would not do any harm to many around here and it would certainly make a change from all the fairytales and stories that are spun.

It is not that we are short of legislation to put in its place. Where are the justice Bills that are required to keep law and order on our streets or the one gardaí need to restore people's confidence in them? What elected representatives do in this House at the behest of the Government is a joke. The only comfort for me is that the good people of Ireland are no longer laughing. They know it is serious. It might be acceptable behaviour for the Government after years of running down the importance of this House but I will never accept it from any Government. A Government that does nothing in the House but push through flawed Bills is not good enough. People are fed up with this. The message is finally getting through and they know what is going on, namely, the Opposition is not being allowed to perform in the House.

I do not wish to spend all my time talking about how the Dáil works, but I am getting very fed up with it, as are most people. People are dying because we are not working effectively here. It is time we faced up to this failure of democracy.

Immigration is not new in Ireland. This legislation, like its predecessors, attempts to bring regulation to what is a natural element of the functioning of any country. People come here and people leave. It is not rocket science. It is not as if the problem only began two days ago. This has been a gradual problem that has been handled badly from day one. As the saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right. This also holds true for three, four, five or six wrongs. It is a natural tendency to want to shut our borders and become fortress Ireland, but it is not just or right. The attempt to establish fortress Europe has failed but this legislation seems to take its lead from such failed European policies.

It is not that the idea is wrong or the concept of some form of control is wrong, it is natural for all of us to want to protect what we have. However, a system that turns a holiday camp in County Meath where people used to pay to go to enjoy themselves to a place in which we, the taxpayers, pay for people to go, is fundamentally wrong. These unfortunate people do not even want to be there. They do not want to be stuck in a holiday camp in Meath with nothing to do. They would prefer to be out working but our immigration policy does not allow that. It could take six months or two years for them to get permission to work.

I am not saying this is where the Bill is wrong, but it is a symptom of what is wrong with our overall immigration policy. After many years of immigration we have no concrete idea of what we want to achieve through legislation. Like the legislation itself, we have a half-baked idea of what we want to achieve. The Bill has been rushed in here in a matter of two days, many of the words are changed and we will have some 100 amendments discussed tomorrow.

We all know that the courts which deal with Bunreacht na hÉireann do not deal in half-baked ideas, so it is incumbent on the House and the Government to draw back and fully develop our immigration policy. We should make use of the experience of the rest of Europe and that of Australia or America. While I would not subscribe to all American policies, I am impressed with how a land of immigrants has been transformed in 200 years into the single greatest economic bloc in the world. It is a lesson and a model from which we can all learn.

Following our inaction in recent years we are rushing through this Bill. One of the biggest drawbacks of our legislation in this area is that people from other countries who wish to settle here, but who are kept idle for long periods while their applications are dealt with, are perceived to be gleefully receiving handouts. This is not the case. They do not necessarily want the handouts. Many of them want to work. For example, some are pharmacists and could fill the shortages we have. However, they are not allowed to work. This causes resentment among many taxpayers, and resentment can easily turn to racism. While I know it is not the intention of anybody to stir up racial tensions through legislation, this Bill and the discussion over the past week has done so. Through its failure to adopt a clear policy, the Government has stirred up racial tensions. I have spoken on this matter on numerous occasions yet nothing has been done. The Members opposite can smile all they like, but when they listen with their clean ears they will hear what the people are saying.

This legislation was born out of a court judgment and we know there is a potential problem with this. The only solution is cool heads and the formulation of a plan dealing with immigration. This may require us to think outside the box or indulge in lateral thinking — we should not be afraid to do this. Following the formation of the plan, the best legal brains should be called together — if there are any that are not involved in the tribunals — to study the plan and formulate legislation that will observe the Constitution.

The High Court ruling declared a section of the Immigration Act 1999 to be unconstitutional. This has provided an important warning and tells us that Government should avoid legislative shortcuts in responding to specific political and administrative pressures. The timing of the judgment, as EU Ministers met at Dublin Castle to discuss the asylum issue, was apt. The Amsterdam treaty has set 1 May as the date for the adoption of a common EU approach on issues of asylum and the treatment of refugees. It is vital that any resolution of these matters is carefully considered and is humane and just. Whereas there is pressure on us to reach a common solution by 1 May, I hope that it will not be a knee-jerk reaction and is well thought through.

The judge found that a section of the Immigration Act dealing with Garda controls on the movements of non-nationals was unconstitutional. She also ruled that a section of the Aliens Act 1935 requiring non-nationals to comply with provisions regarding registration or change of address or employment was unconstitutional. Flaws had previously been found in the Aliens Order and the 1999 Act was supposed to rectify these. As a result of her findings, Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan granted an order preventing the prosecution of the Albanian Kosovan man who had failed to produce identification to a garda when requested to do so. This shows how inadequate is our immigration legislation.

This has been a live issue for a number of years. Deputy Bruton said that we should have immigration law that is firm and fair, and I agree with this sentiment. A large number of amendments have been tabled to this Bill and this indicates that it has not been properly thought through. The Minister should review the immigration legislation with his officials and other experts in the area. While I realise this will be done on a pan-EU basis, we should also look at our own laws.

The Human Rights Commission has publicly stated that it regrets the Minister did not refer the Bill to it in advance of publication. The president of the commission said:

We have not had time to make detailed observations on the Bill as we would wish to do and which we are statutorily empowered to do. It is our view that it is most undesirable that any legislative proposal with such significance for the promotion and protection of human rights should be processed so quickly and without the benefit of wider consultation.

I think the House shares these sentiments.

The problems associated with immigration will continue for some time. I hear about these problems in my clinic in Tralee as a large number of asylum seekers are resident there. I am keenly aware of the human interest stories that have been recounted by a number of Members. Tackling the root causes of migration is the only long-term solution. This will involve a significant increase in overseas development aid and the abolition of unfair trade barriers. While progress is being made in these areas, it is not being achieved rapidly enough. Coherent channels for legal migration are needed, rather than the currentad hoc system. Temporary work visas must be made available for migrant workers and those already here on a temporary basis must have their status regularised.

The granting of visas is a major issue. I know of a case where a woman, who is in hospital having a baby, suffered complications and is very sick. Her Algerian husband, who has applied for refugee status in England, was refused a visa to visit Ireland. The woman came here to look after her sick mother who has since died, and her husband could not attend her funeral here. It is a tragic story. Any immigration system that does not allow a husband to visit his sick wife is neither fair nor good.

A recent ESRI report has predicted that Ireland will need approximately 300,000 educated immigrants by 2010. We should look at the Australian model where visas are issued not to the company, but to the individual worker. This would be a fairer system. Under this system, people could apply for an Irish work visa and travel here.

There is much confusion in immigration legislation. The legislation that was in place, dating back to 1935, was inadequate to deal withthe complexities of modern asylum and immigration norms. An overview of the entire area must be taken and our approach must become more cohesive. I am sure this Bill will be challenged in the courts and there will be further challenges. The Minister should review the legislation in this area to ensure that our legislation is watertight and will not be subjected to regular court actions. While the common European policy may be of some assistance, it is important that this State should have coherent legislation.

I wish to share time with Deputies O'Connor and Hoctor.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the Bill. We are the victim of our success. If one turned back the clock, the picture was very different 15 or 16 years ago . All colleagues in the Chamber with the exception of Deputy Deasy were members of either the Dáil or Seanad at that time. We have come a long way since the days of income tax rates of 65% and 35%, interest rates in excess of 18% and emigration of 50,000 people each year. We had one of the highest inflation rates in the EU at that time and the national debt was doubling. Those were the facts.

I have been around for a long time and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, is one of the most progressive and courageous Ministers in any Government in the past 20 years. I commend him for bringing this legislation forward. I know he wants to bring a more comprehensive Bill before the House next year but there are no controls to deal with the problems that have resulted from our success during the past 15 to 16 years . Something has to be done urgently. Members have given various examples and our colleague, Deputy Deenihan, has just given an example of hardship and heartbreak. One's heart would go out to these human beings, fellow Christians

They are not all Christians.

They may not be Christian, but they are human beings. We must recognise that we are here from an act of birth. We would like to think we shaped our own destiny, but it was an act of the Good Lord where we were created and where we would live. Taking all these factors into account, any reasonable person who has had an association with emigration — most families had members who emigrated to foreign shores, never to come back — understands the hardship involved. That background was not pleasant, but thankfully now a person can be born and reared, educated to the highest standards, get a job in his or her home country, get married and live the rest of his or her life in the land where he or she was born. That is a major change in a very short time and we made it happen. The Members of the Oireachtas and our wonderful Presidents made Ireland the success story it is today. We take the kudos for helping this to happen. The Fianna Fáil Party has been in power for a good part of that time, from 1987. I compliment Deputy Howlin who played a major part during his time in office.

I know that Deputy John Deasy is a young man starting off in life and I wish him well and a great future. It is lovely to see young people coming to the Dáil. I know from being there on a few occasions that he was very highly thought of in Capitol Hill. Today's young generation are probably the best generation the country has ever seen.

The Bill before us this evening deserves our full support and we should not be scoring political points because the lives of human beings are at stake. We urgently need to put controls in place. The interim Bill before us provides for such controls. There are no controls in place and it is not fair to the Irish people or to our EU or UK partners, in particular, because we have a common reciprocal agreement with the UK that allows freedom of movement for our and their citizens.

I think Members on all sides of the House, deep down in their heart welcome this legislation. We wish the Bill a safe passage and look forward to a more comprehensive Bill coming before us in the next 12 months.

I bring to the House the benefit of my experience in the community. I hold seven weekly advice clinics in Dublin South-West, in Tallaght, Greenhills, Templeogue and Firhouse, and I have found that people who might be affected by this Bill come to my clinics as their colleagues bring them. One interesting aspect is that they are accompanied by other members of the community, people who have been living in the area for a long time. That is integration at play, which is a positive sign.

I support this Bill and I congratulate the Minister and his official on what I see as their prompt response to the outcome of the recent Supreme Court judgment. We are debating legislation which is clearly a response to what has become a frequent occurrence, where legislation is found wanting for one reason or other by the courts.

It is predictable.

Deputy Howlin can make that point, but if I had more time and it was not so late, I would debate the issue with him. The Deputy and I have long memories and it is not the first time this has happened — it happened in other administrations.

It is highly predictable.

That is the word, but I have confidence that the Minister can close this loophole and do the job. I concur with Deputy Cassidy's remarks on Deputy Deasy and I wish him well.

Do not forget me.

I have expressed my admiration for the Deputy on more than one occasion. The Deputy is now eating into my time. When I have more experience, having served a few more terms in office, I will have more confidence in dealing with these interruptions. I look forward to that.

I think it is accepted that it falls on the Government to ensure that permission to enter the country is a permission bestowed on the non-national by the State. I am happy to note that the word "aliens" has at last been removed from this legislation. Throughout the debate — I have listened carefully to many of the contributions — I have noted Members using the opportunity to highlight individual cases, but only negative cases, of course. Cases have been brought to my attention at various clinics. In dealing with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on certain items, I find that many of the simpler issues are often resolved very quickly, but from listening to the debate, one does not get that impression.

The public will not thank the Oireachtas if we do not move to close off the loopholes in the system I note that in 2003 there were more than 128,000 non-nationals registered with the Garda Síochána. All these welcome visitors are incompliance with our immigration law and will be reassured by the enactment of this Bill, which will underpin the continued Garda registration of non-nationals. No one can object to the stating and clarification of the obligations on non-nationals to present themselves on arrival in the State to an immigration officer for leave to land. This measure is enforced internationally whenever we travel abroad, be it for business ortourism, to many states, especially outside the EU.

People are expressing an interest in the list of powers by which, and circumstances in which, an immigration officer may refuse leave to land or grant permission to remain in the State, including the conditions under which the non-national is permitted to work for the duration of his or her stay. As legislators, we should support these basic operational controls.

The power to check on non-nationals for evidence that they are permitted to be in the State, to charge them for breaches of that permission or for being illegally present in the State, and to arrest and detain them for such offences is an acceptable and essential part of the Bill for the enforcement of our immigration system. None of us should forget that all these elements have been part of Irish immigration law up to the present.

I am interested in the points that other speakers made, although I was somewhat confused as to how some Opposition colleagues managed to misunderstand who was in the House at different times. That, however, is a distraction as far as this debate is concerned. I listened carefully to the discussion and formed the impression that people wanted to debate this legislation to a great extent and to spend as much time as possible doing so. If the public noted today's process, they might have been somewhat confused as to how we do our business.

The Deputy has managed to confuse me.

I am not trying to confuse him.

He has succeeded in doing so.

I am sorry about that, but if I did, I will put that on my curriculum vitae. Only today, I was talking about Deputy Howlin and I said that, at a time when Tallaght Hospital could have ten or 12 plaques hanging in its hallway, there is only one and it has Deputy Howlin's name on it. He should not try to stop me from being one of his admirers. Deputy Howlin must understand that I am only a Government backbencher and am happy to support the Minister who, in trying circumstances, is attempting to deal with the business before us.

In trying circumstances?

The Minister is entitled to goodwill from all sides of the House because he is trying to do his job. Whatever about the Opposition's need to score little political points every now and again to keep the soundbite business going, the Minister is doing his job. I am happy to applaud his efforts as far as the Bill is concerned.

Gabhaim buíochas leat, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, as ucht an seans labhairt sa Teach um thrathnóna faoin mBille. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the Bill. Following the recent High Court judgment of 22 January, the Government must address urgently the immediate legislative requirements that have arisen.

Many concerns have been expressed by various interest groups, and I have received much documentation from people who are genuinely committed to assisting the plight of non-nationals. Copies of submissions have been received from groups including Cairde, Challenging Ethnic Minority Health Inequalities, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism.

What is restated in the Bill is what was thought to have been the law prior to the High Court decision of last week. The urgency arises from the fact that the validity of all statutory provisions dealing with the control of non-nationals' entry to, and their stay in, the State may now be called into question. We need not apologise for the speediness with which we are now act to put back in place what has been undermined by the recent court decision.

A non-national has no right, as such, to come to or stay in this State without permission. The appointment of immigration officers, immigration controls on non-nationals entering or seeking to enter the State, the issuance of work permits, the provision of accommodation and literacy classes are all means we have put in place to give a fair chance to those who wish to establish themselves here legally.

There was a certain irony in a recent story relating to my constituency. The small town of Borrisoleigh in north Tipperary was originally the home of Bishop Joseph Shanaghan, a renowned missionary who established many schools to educate people in Nigeria. In recent years, the people of Borrisoleigh have welcomed with open arms a large group of Nigerians who came to live in the area. The literacy skills they were provided with are indicative of the Government's commitment to ensure that people who genuinely need safety and care will be looked after.

Concerns have been expressed about the Bill in the documentation provided to us. I will refer first to the NCCRI, which provides an example of the experience of racism that has been a reality for some non-nationals arriving at our airports. They have provided accounts of their experience of racism, which are unacceptable and unforgivable We must ensure that this will not recur. Unfortunately, such behaviour occurs in our streets at times, and it must be a very demeaning experience for non-nationals. However, to learn from these committed organisations that non-nationals have experienced this behaviour from officers of State agencies is unacceptable. I hope the issue will be addressed through the internal workings of the Department. I am glad that section 4(3)(c), under which entry could be refused to non-nationals with a disease or disability, will be removed by a Government amendment.

As convenor of the Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, I am aware of all the work that has gone into the preparation of the legislation. The Bill covers the following areas of immigration law: the obligations on non-nationals to present themselves on arrival in the State to an immigration officer for leave to land; the power to, and circumstances in which, an immigration officer may refuse leave to land to a non-national; the power to attach conditions as to duration of stay and engagement in business, profession or employment to a permission to enter the State; the legal status of non-nationals present in the State, depending on whether they have a current permission; the obligation on non-nationals to comply with registration requirements while in the State; the obligation on hotels and other accommodation providers to keep a register of all non-nationals staying on their premises; the obligation on every person landing in the State to have a valid passport or other equivalent documentation; the obligation on non-nationals in the State to have a valid passport or registration certificate where they are registered under the Act; the power of arrest for offences under the Act; and the power to designate classes of persons who require a visa or transit visa.

If a non-national arrives on our shores and is eventually deported, the average cost of the process is €20,000. The Bill is a common-sense measure to address the issue of immigration at the point of entry. It will establish clearly whether the non-national is legally entitled to come here. The carrier's liability legislation has already been put in place to address some aspects of the matter. Those who genuinely seek safety here should be accommodated, but we must be sensible also. Our objectives should be to reduce the costs and the workload involved in immigration procedures while looking after non-nationals who are genuinely in need.

From the work of the Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, we can see the effectiveness of the procedures of the Department. A large number of employees in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform have been designated to serve the requirements of non-nationals here. I have every confidence that the Minister's commitment will continue. We have the right to protect our citizens from people with adversarial histories, and the Bill provides the means by which to do that.

I compliment the Minister on his commitment to date. He is a person for whom I have the height of respect. He has proved himself on every occasion in committee to be fair and sensible and I am sure he will continue to be so as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I commend the Bill and urge that it move towards implementation without delay.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Howlin.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this Bill. This is no thanks to the Government which seems determined to stop people talking about it rather than to assist them. Earlier, I noticed the antics of a Fianna Fáil Deputy — Deputy O'Flynn — who stood and spoke for exactly one minute. Presumably, he was trying to cause the collapse of the debate. I do not know whether he was put up to it or whether the Minister was keen to end the debate.

It is a pity we did not get to hear what Deputy O'Flynn has to say on this issue. We certainly heard what he had to say during the last general election in the city of Cork, and it was quite disturbing. It would be appropriate for him to come into the House and state his views on immigration in a way that leaves them open to record and scrutiny. Instead he spoke for a minute and tried to cause the collapse of the debate. Fortunately, he did not get away with it.

An important challenge for all democratically elected representatives is to face the issue of racism wherever it rears its head. My fear, which does not come from this side of the House, is that some of those on the Government side will, under pressure, begin to use the race card at election time. The reality is simple. We debated emigration in Private Members' time the other night. I listened, sometimes with tears in my eyes, to what was being said about emigration from this country.

Our emigrants have always been immigrants to some other country, nation and people. Now, our immigrants are emigrants from some under country. Until we get this into our heads, the distrust, ignorance and danger of racism will never be fully overcome. It is up to us to lead the way in whatever capacity we can.

It is in our interest to ensure that we tackle the challenge presented by racism and immigration in a proactive way. I was interested to hear what Kofi Annan said the other day when he received the Andrei Sakharov prize at the EuropeanParliament. He made the important and simple point that a closed Europe would be meaner, poorer, weaker and older, whereas an open Europe would be fairer, richer, stronger and younger.

We have just been debating the issue of care of the elderly. We need to see people coming into this country and making their contribution. Our economy is dependent on that kind of movement. We need only look at the US. Its economy could not have grown how it has without the inward movement of people to provide growth and economic activity. Our demographic trends are no different to any other European country. It is interesting that we have been able to benefit enormously from immigration in recent times. Ireland had some 300,000 people come into the country to work in the past six years, from all over Europe and the rest of the world. That is a staggering number of people. They are of value to us. They assist us in building our economy and prosperity.

It is a pity this Bill is not about an immigration policy appropriate to our times. It is about plugging a hole created by the ineptitude of the previous Government. It is important to deal with the issue of immigration. This Bill is not dealing with it in any forward thinking or appropriate way. Will a serious effort be made to produce an immigration policy and legislation appropriate to these times? What we are getting at the moment is arrogant and thoughtless. It is a risky approach to the issue by the Minister.

We all know the Bill arises because of a court judgment which found that the Government was not acting in a statutory manner and that the Aliens Order was invalid. The Government tried to do a patchwork job and brought in legislation deeming the order would have effect if it was an Act of the Oireachtas. This was rejected by the High Court. Now, instead of looking at the fundamental issues and ensuring our legislation is appropriate to our needs, we are attempting another kind of patch-up job.

The Ireland of the Aliens Act 1935 is not the Ireland of today. Then, emigration was our overriding national experience. Now we can afford to welcome immigrants. We are bringing them in, welcome or not, on occasion. The tide has turned and this is a sign of growth and prosperity for us. What has happened is good and brings social, cultural, economic and even genetic benefits. We need to recognise that.

Why did the Government not consult the Human Rights Commission about its concerns? The best expertise and advice available was not obtained. We have the embarrassing situation of the Human Rights Commission being critical of the legislation instead of having its advice and support of better legislation.

As spokesperson for my party on health I want to concentrate on the section of the Bill that empowers an immigration officer to refuse people permission to land in Ireland on the grounds of their health. People are uneasy about this. I know this was already in the legislation. Obviously we must have safeguards, but be that as it may, there is something disturbing about the idea of saying, based on the word of an immigration officer, that somebody who suffers from a mental illness cannot land. Since when does an immigration officer have the diagnostic skills of a psychiatrist or psychologist? Psychiatrists themselves would admit they are not as great as that at their job.

The Minister's amendment to the Schedule defines it some more when referring to conditions or grounds for refusal as "Profound mental disturbance, that is to say, manifest conditions of psychotic disturbance with agitation, delirium, hallucinations or confusion." Is the appropriate way to deal with a person arriving into the country in this condition to put him or her back on an aeroplane or boat? Is that what one does with a human being in that state? For all sorts of reasons many perfectly sane people are traumatised and confused but they are not psychotic. Many of us have delusions ——

Not least the Minister.

—— and some of us have hallucinations from time to time. I am not making light of the whole idea of mental illness.

Next the Deputy will think she is speaking in the ——

I have grave concerns. This is a serious point, the Minister has great style about him. He is like a jolly schoolboy ——

Like Nero, a Roman emperor.

We are talking about real people. This is not juvenile humour. We are talking about what will happen when somebody who is sick, vulnerable and in difficulty is treated as not worthy to be allowed enter the sacred isle of Ireland. That this judgment can be made by an immigration officer cannot be right.

I rise with a sense ofdéjà vu. I handled the justice spokesmanship for several years under the stewardship in Government of the previous Minister, Deputy O'Donoghue, although I recognise the officials present as ones who served under him. The permanent Government goes on I suppose. I thought when I left that spokesmanship that I would not address the same issues again. What frustrated me most during my time handling justice issues was the handling of the new phenomenon in Ireland of asylum and the separate issues of immigration and integration. Our attitude since the phenomenon began has been botched. I hoped a different Minister would adopt a fresh approach, but the botched approach continues however and it is depressing to see it.

There are very many fine, diligent and hard working civil and public servants involved in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I make no negative comment on any of them but I have something to say about the political head who is accountable to this House. In my experience, themodus operandi of the Department has invariably been to present legislation in a piecemeal fashion and to seek to amend it in the middle of debate by presenting sizeable chunks of amendment on critical issues, often after the conclusion of Second Stage. That the Department has no long-term strategic approach to fundamental issues is a political charge. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the political head of the Department to approach its work with vision, a sense of compassion and understanding of the realities. While it is not my contention that there should not be amending legislation on foot of the High Court decision, the legislation before the House is not the appropriate response. That does not surprise me. What surprises and disappoints me greatly is that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform presents it.

It is perhaps ten years since this country first encountered the new phenomenon to which I referred. Deputy Cassidy spoke of how wonderful the great Celtic tiger was and how we could all share in it. He gave everyone in the House a degree of acknowledgement for our common endeavours in making Ireland an attractive place to which to come. God knows it was not an attractive place for a very long time for a variety of reasons. We decanted our human surplus across the globe in a manner which we addressed in a Private Members' debate no later than last week. We all cried crocodile tears. I remember in my early days in this House debates on how to legitimise the 100,000 young Irish illegals in the United States of America. I remember when the job of the current Taoiseach and others was to go on deputations to ply as best they could our influence with our friends on Capitol Hill. How quickly we forget.

There are three issues involved which are related but distinct. The first of these is asylum. We still do not have a co-ordinated, clear, manifestly fair asylum seeking strategy which deals effectively and efficiently with all asylum seekers.

I disagree.

That is a point of view. I say that after years of effort — none of us has put such a system in place. We do not have a rational immigration strategy which takes account of the many people who come to our shores who are not asylum seekers. While they will tell one that honestly, no other avenue is open to them but to apply for asylum in the clear knowledge that it will not be granted. It is better than the alternative of staying where they are. They try to better themselves as millions of Irish people have done for generations, but we have no rational green card system to determine the skills base and the national base of people who should be allowed to come here and work. Instead, we have applied a sort of serfdom which allows employers in too many cases with which I am personally familiar to bring people here and use and abuse them. I am not accusing all employers but those who are guilty do this on the basis that it is they who have the permits in their fists rather than the immigrants who will face deportation if they fail to toe the line. We still have not addressed that issue after all the years of talking.

In a document which was fair, though far from perfect, I addressed the issues many years ago and outlined the third strand of a rational approach. It was an anti-racism integration strategy which would have provided communities with the resources to integrate and prepare for multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious Ireland. For all the talk about committees and moneys, we have still not done the job effectively. I am aware of the plight of desperate people. I do not live too far from the port of Rosslare. I was one of the first people to arrive at Kerlogue Industrial Estate on the bright Saturday morning a container was opened which was full of corpses. I will never forget that morning nor will the ambulance crews and those who dealt with it. The local parish priest still recalls the incident by which he is indelibly scarred.

These are the realities of dealing with measures like this. While we have done much important work to prevent that sort of trafficking in people, the plight of desperate people must be recognised. All Europe has a moral obligation to provide people with the hope that they can apply to be legitimised, which is what millions of Irish people sought for generations. I wish I had more time to develop my points as to why this legislation is depressing. I have endless files deriving from my spokesmanship on this area containing letters dating back to 1998 which cover the same issues that arise today and in which the previous Minister said exactly the same things the current Minister is saying. It is profoundly disappointing. That we do not have anything fresh, new, fair and distinctly Irish and unique to say on these matters is deeply annoying.

We are here tonight because what I predicted in this House in 1999 has come to pass. In the landmark case of Laurentiuv. the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the High Court struck down that part of section 5(1) which dealt with the deportation and exclusion of what were then called “aliens”. As the Government is doing now, the Governmentof the time rushed legislation through the House in a knee-jerk response to the High Court judgment. The consequences were highly predictable. I told the House that the section was at odds with the principles enunciated by Mr. Justice Geoghegan to the effect that the Minister could not make primary law by way of statutory instrument. Yet, that is what he insisted on doing. I told him it would be struck down. The Minister, his officials and the then Attorney General, now an EU Commissioner, felt that what I was saying was wrong, yet what Ipredicted has come to pass. We are back again with another fix-it Bill. I would have no difficulty with that if there was a genuine promise to introduce comprehensive and over-arching legislation.

In the typical departmental way, they bring in all the measures reminiscent of the original 1935 Act that has its origins in First World War legislation and thought processes.

It is profoundly disappointing that we are back doing the same business. It is upsetting beyond measure that a Minister who promised so much about being a genuinely fresh mind in an extremely difficult Department with a challenging issue to deal with regurgitates the same old attitude that will have a negative impact on so many people's lives. I wish that this Bill were withdrawn and that a smaller one were enacted to plug the gap, allowing us the time and space, with compassion and broadness and mind, to introduce important legislation to deal with these issues.

I am glad to have the opportunity to say a few words on this legislation. I listened to the speeches made in the House during the day and some were extremely good, compassionate and caring. I would like to share time with——

Deputy Connolly.

Yes, or his colleague.

He will share time with anybody.

Anybody, or if necessary, I will speak for the half hour, if the Ceann Comhairle allows me.

The Deputy has 15 minutes in his slot. I have been obliged to call the Minister at 10.15 p.m.

Perhaps the Ceann Comhairle might tell me when I am half-way through. I compliment Deputy Hoctor, a new Deputy, on her caring, compassionate and understanding speech. It is good to hear a new Member make such a speech. It is easy to go with the crowd and pick up all the prejudices. One goes along with them and says that we must be careful about allowing too many people into the country since it will make life difficult for the rest of us.

More than any nation on the face of the earth, we have a duty to recognise where we came from and all those times that we bade goodbye to our people as they fled our shores. They did so for economic reasons rather than because they had done something wrong. It was simply because they could not afford to live in their homeland. More than any other nation, we should be compassionate and recognise that there are others now who have the same problems and must leave home because of economics. While I fully recognise that there must be some controls in Europe, we should not allow ourselves to over-indulge in them simply to accommodate prejudice, since that is always with us, whether we like it or not.

In recent days, we have been concerned about the urgency with which it was proposed to rush this legislation through the House. Urgent legislation rushed through has a bad record. On every occasion that has happened, we have paid a price. I do not blame the Minister or anyone else, since the previous legislation was struck down in the courts. Like it or not, a comment was made to the effect that we in this House did not discuss all the legislation's implications adequately. That is our fault, and there is no excuse for it. For as long as I have been in the House, we have always had an opportunity to discuss adequately all the legislation that came before us. Any time that there was interference with the time taken to discuss legislation, we ran into trouble. I am disappointed that we do not have that small period of extra time. It would be helpful. I know that the Minister also has constraints, but that is life. Constraints effect everyone from time to time.

My family and the families of other Members had to leave this country's shores to seek a living abroad. Nobody in the countries to which they emigrated put up barriers or said that they could not come or were not welcome on their shores. As previous speakers have said, it is not that long — only in the past 15 years — since we tried to ensure that Irish people in the United States could remain there. Now that we have a different economic climate, we see headlines in some of the newspapers saying that 170,000 eastern Europeans are about to descend on our shores. There is a grave danger that those headlines will do what they are intended to do: rough up and encourage prejudice that is barely under the surface. If we take that route, we will do a grave disservice, not only to those who will be thevictims but also to this country and its reputation.

I recognise that we have been given extra time tomorrow until 3.30 p.m. to discuss Committee Stage of the Bill. I hope that we get it right this time and that it is fair and does a fair and compassionate job. We should not try to show the rest of the world how tough we are. We cannot afford to show it anything other than it showed us in the past — hospitality.

I am sharing time with Deputy Joe Higgins.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

The Bill is abhorrent to me for several reasons. The power being given to immigration officials to turn back non-nationals with a disability is reminiscent of the Third Reich's eugenics and testing for racial purity. It smacks of the Aryan policy of racial perfection. Without anyone having a blemish or weakness, they are regarded as non-persons or non-human for immigration policy. At its core, it strips people of their personhood and dignity. It also shines some light into the dark recesses of the Government's mental health policy in Ireland. We have now reached the position where, unless one has utility in economic terms, one is regarded as an irritant. That so-called economic model certainly does not embrace the full spectrum of society. Such thinking has serious implications morally, socially and economically. However, the Government does not have the guts to come out and say it.

To carry this to its logical conclusion, does it mean that anyone of low economic value should not have access to health, housing or education? Singling out non-nationals with a proscribed disease or intellectual disability would have reduced last year's Special Olympics to a shambles. How many of the competitors from all over the world would have been permitted to enter Ireland had our mental police been on duty at our airports? Last summer, we all basked in the reflected glory of the heroics of the world's special competitors and their achievements. The Government made a great show of its compassion and concern for the special olympians and promenaded in Croke Park in front of the world's media. However, its attitude to the disabled as enunciated in this Bill amounts to a gratuitous insult and is utterly unacceptable in a so-called enlightenedsociety.

I acknowledge that the Minister has responsibility for immigration control, but to single out one group is venturing into dangerous waters. That was the policy of Hitler and dictators down the centuries. The Bill's provision to debar non-nationals convicted of offences in other states is another McCarthy-style attack on the vulnerable. Placing the onus on householders to report and register non-nationals resident there is also reminiscent of witch hunts. If someone were convicted in Mugabe's Zimbabwe of bad-mouthing the beloved leader, would he or she be debarred from entering Ireland? In effect, the Bill reintroduces the Aliens Act and does not reflect immigration rights. It does not take too much account of the huddled masses yearning to be free.

The haste in which the Minister is pushing this Bill through Dáil Éireann is not just indecent but obscene. The Government, when it comes to targeting the vulnerable, cannot hasten enough. However, when it comes to targeting the landlords, the financiers or the legal robbers of the people of this State, we have no such haste.

Owing to lack of time, I will go immediately to the most repugnant sections of this Bill, sections 9(2)(c), (d) and (e), which state that a non-national shall comply with the following requirements as to registration:

(c) he or she shall, if about to change his or her residence, furnish to the registration officer for the registration district in which he or she is then resident particulars as to the date on which his or her residence is to be changed and as to his or her intended place of residence;

(d) on effecting any change of residence from one registration district to another, he or she shall, within 48 hours of his or her arrival in the other registration district report his or her arrival to the registration officer for that district;

Section 9(3) is the worst part of this section. It states that if a non-national has no residence, meaning no fixed abode — his or her regular residence, if you like — he or she shall attend at the office of a registration officer and, so far as possible, supply the particulars that would be required under this section if he or she were resident in the district of that officer, and shall report to the registration officer for any other district in which he or she stays for more than 24 hours.

The last place provisions such as this were notoriously enforced was Stalinist Russia.

The gulag.

A person had to inform the KGB of every move he or she made. It was notorious for visitors from abroad, so-called aliens or non-nationals. To find a Minister, who probably deludes himself into thinking he is a paradigm of liberalism of some sort, imposing a provision such as this is quite incredible, but worse is to come. Section 9(4) beggars belief. It states:

If a non-national who is required under this section to register or report is lodging with, or living as a member of the household of, any other person, it shall be the duty of that person to take steps (either by giving notice to the registration officer of the presence of the non-national in his or her household or otherwise) to secure compliance with the terms of the Act.

This is quite incredible. A non-national may be lodging in a flat with a few other Irish workers and the Minister is turning them into policemen for the State. This is not the Stalinism of the 1970s or the 1980s, but of the 1930s. It is quite incredible. Fortunately, I could not go to Stalinist Russia when it was in its hard-line phase because with my philosophy of democratic socialism, I possibly would not have come out safely. I went there shortly after it fell and they still had some of the bad habits——

They might have given the Deputy an ice pick as a souvenir.

——and, therefore, we were subjected to rigorous screening. This will be carried on by the gardaí who will have the right to go into a hotel or otherwise where non-nationals are staying and demand to look at the register and to take it with them. It is absolutely incredible. They will be able to arrest non-nationals without warrant. This means pinpointing people living on this island on a racial basis. That is, in practice, what it will come down to. Gardaí will not approach every white person on the street but one can be sure people of a different colour will immediately be singled out as being non-national and subject to these checks.

This notoriously resembles what used to happen on the underground in France, and possibly still does. Fleets of special police move in to target immigrants which means targeting people of different colours. It is absolutely incredible that the Minister, who fancies himself as a liberal, would push this kind of legislation through under the guise of controlling, or regulating, immigration in this State.

I ask the Minister to think again about these reprehensible and noxious provisions included in this Bill. If he wants to bring in a Bill regulating, or providing for, people who are not born in this State residing here, that is fine. He can bring it before the House, we can have a proper debate on it and the same democratic provisions can be open to them as are open to everybody else. The Minister should not scapegoat them in this noxious way by including such provisions in theBill, and I have only had time to point out afew.

I thank all the Deputies for the interesting contributions they made to this debate. I have taken everything I have heard on board. I profoundly disagreed with some of it but found I totally agreed with other parts. I have welcomed — in my own mind at any rate — the breadth of views expressed on this legislation. Many Deputies said they wished they were discussing different legislation — broader, more fundamental and comprehensive immigration law such as that which is promised in the programme for Government — as do I. I wish I was bringing forward that Bill and not this one, but circumstances are different.

We live in a democracy and one of its features is that any person, even those who are not citizens, can go to the High Court at any stage and can challenge the validity of any Act, or provision of an Act, which has been passed by the Oireachtas. If the High Court condemns such a provision by reference to the Constitution, it immediately falls — the lever kicked and the trap door is open. There is no argument. One cannot go to the Supreme Court saying one wants to make a case to it in three weeks' time, asking that the legislation be saved in the meantime, asking it to say what the High Court said may not be correct and saying that it would be more administratively convenient to carry on as heretofore. That is not the system we have; we have a different system which is more thoroughgoing and radical. This is the only country in Europe where such a system obtains.

Sometimes we hear in this House that we have a system which is more draconian, less citizen-friendly or human rights-friendly. This is the only republic in the European Union in which a citizen or non-citizen can go to the courts and ask that any Act of Parliament be knocked down immediately without any recourse on appeal as to the immediate effectiveness of a High Court judgment.

Only if it is contrary to the Constitution.

This is the only country in the European Union where that applies. Let us remember that. I welcome the fact we live in such a democracy. Sometimes when I hear criticisms of our legal system and our constitutional order, I think people should remember that it is the right of anyone, citizen or non-citizen, to go to our courts and to challenge any legislation in these circumstances.

The Attorney General, as is his right in an adversarial system, is about to appeal this decision on behalf of the Government and bring it to the Supreme Court. There will be a Supreme Court hearing sooner rather than later but in the meantime, I am faced with a situation I think all Deputies fully understand, which is, that in large areas dealing with the control of non-nationals, there is no effective law at the moment. That places a moral obligation on me to take immediate steps to remedy that situation in circumstances in which I prefer not to have to do so.

We owe it to the European Union to be in a position to protect our fellow member states from a situation where we have no law for the regulation of non-nationals. We owe it, in particular, to the United Kingdom with whom we have a common travel area and many things in common, including the right to travel without identity documents of any kind between one state and another. We owe it to them to have some system whereby we can say to them, as we would expect them to say to us, that non-nationals in either country are subject to some form of regulation. Above all, we owe it to ourselves as a sovereign state to have in place some system whereby we exercise our democratic sovereign right to say who does and does not come in, for how long and so on. We must have a system of that kind.

I fully defer to the view of Members that it would be preferable in an ideal world for the House to have weeks and months to consider these matters. I do not live in such an ideal world but in a slightly different one in which our constitutional guarantees mean a High Court judgment can be handed to my officials while working hard in the middle of an EU conference, having spent hours and weeks preparing for that process because it was centred on migration issues. They were suddenly placed in a totally different, inverted world and asked to work on a legislative response to the High Court decision because one was required. They worked hard for hours over a weekend to develop a text for the House. While the text introduced in the House was not perfect, as the officials in question and I would be the first to admit, we must do our level best to get the best law possible in the current circumstances because there is a legislative process. If we had another month to consider the matter, there is no doubt that we would find many aspects of the text which could improved or that little ideas would occur to many Deputies to improve the text.

We do not live in that perfect world. I live in the real world in which I must inform the Garda national immigration bureau tomorrow whether it has powers. In the great majority of cases, it does not have any of the powers which are normal and conventional in a European Union member state. I, and every Member of the House, regardless of his or her views on migration or ideological issues, owe a duty to the Garda national immigration bureau to provide it with a law it can operate in short order.

It has been suggested that this is an appalling text. The officials in my Department, who have worked long and hard, took the perfectly predictable and straightforward approach, namely, they replicated in as far as possible the pre-existing law. Incidentally, that legislation allowed all the participants in the Special Olympics, the asylum seekers currently in the State and all those with psychological and psychiatric problems who have entered the State for medical treatment to come here.

The High Court did not state the legislation was out of order but that it was mechanically flawed in the way Deputy Howlin had apparently predicted in 1999 when I was not a Member of the House.

The Minister knows I predicted it.

The approach of my officials was to take the existing law and reinstate it as best they could. In recent days, however, they have taken advantage of the time available to address many of the problems raised about the existing law, including some of its arcane, old-fashioned and outdated language and processes.

It is not enough.

They have done their best to make the legislation as acceptable as possible and I stand over the process.

If I believed for one moment that anything I am doing was constitutionally infirm, I would immediately stop the process because I am a constitutionalist at heart. It is one issue if certain matters are imperfect from a point of view of policy, but if someone tells me I am infringing fundamental constitutional rights and doing something constitutionally impermissible and I or my officials agreed or I was advised to that effect, we would stop the process immediately and take a different approach.

In listening to the debate and the public comment which has taken place since the law was struck down by the High Court, we have been careful to distinguish between arguments concerning the merits of policy issues and those related to fundamental civil liberties and the rule of constitutional law. We have taken all the arguments on board and carefully measured this legislation as best we can to address those fundamental difficulties in the current difficult circumstances.

There is a race, a trade-off in this circumstance, between the time available to us, on the one hand — I agree with Opposition speakers that in principle the more time available the better because law tends to improve on reflection — and, on the other, the fact that our police and immigration officials are left with no law to administer. If Marc Dutroux walked through the immigration section of Dublin Airport or Sean Evans walked into the Chamber tomorrow, it would have moral implications. My point in saying this is that I do not live in a moral vacuum which would allow me to tell my officials to spend three weeks preparing the legislation because it is no skin off anybody's nose. Ihave to live in the real world in which not acting is as potentially immoral as acting and delay is just as bad as precipitate, ill-thought out reaction.

A sub-current in a number of contributions — not, I am grateful to note, the majority — was a fundamental suggestion that migration and asylum seeking, on the one hand, and illegal migration on the other hand, form part of a moral stew in which it is impossible to distinguish them and, therefore, it is pointless to try to attempt to do so politically. I agree with Labour Party speakers that the biggest threat to society is the possibility that racism will be played as a political card. The most potentweapon to hand to would-be abusers of the race card is to have a system of law which is not effective and in which people argue that legislators have let them down, migration controls are ineffective and nobody is responding adequately to people who should not be here entering the State.

It is not the case, therefore, that the legislative measures I have taken through the House since my appointment as Minister are racist in undertone. On the contrary, they are necessary to maintain the integrity of our immigration laws. Those who would have us have ineffectual laws in this area would play straight into the hands of an emergent hard right which would do immense damage to society, particularly migrants, and social cohesion.

That is the constant refrain of the right.

I stand firmly over the proposition that we should have firm, identifiable and workable laws and apologise to nobody for working hard to achieve that end or for making firm distinctions between legal and illegal migrants, on the one hand, and bona fide asylum seekers and what some speakers conceded was masquerading asylum seeking, on the other. If I do not make that distinction, the public will make it and it will play straight into the hands of extremists who will capitalise on it and use it to divide society.

The Minister should be careful.

The vast majority of non-nationals who have entered the State are here perfectly legally at our invitation. They play a vital role in the economic success of this country and are welcome. I celebrate their presence as the cultural and ethnic differences among us are a matter for celebration rather than fear. I make no apology for making that statement. Equally, however, the cohesion and openness in Irish society, which is not a racist society but one which is welcoming and open-hearted towards the people who come to our shore to help build it and become part of our collective future, could be threatened if a perception emerges that Government is incapable of exercising fundamental, basic common sense controls in this area.

It is a pity Deputy Joe Higgins has left the Chamber because I want to say that the fact that there are so many migrants trying to get into Ireland, compared with the fact that there were so many Irish people having to get out of Ireland, owes nothing to the policies that he champions——

That is rubbish. What policies has the Minister championed?

——or the policies that the Deputy champions and I am glad he has identified with Deputy Higgins. The hard left brought this country nothing but 15 years of failure between 1972 and 1987.

That is the usual cheap shot. The Minister's time is up.

Is Fine Gael the hard left?

I will conclude on this note. Since 1987 this country has become——

The Minister was a member of that party.

Allow the Minister to conclude, please, without interruption.

A Deputy


——an economic success because it has eschewed the policies of the left and has adopted the policies of economic liberalism.

That is what worries me.

Exploit the migrants at €7 an hour.

That is the reason people want to come here and because we are liberals, they are welcome here. This has been a very healthy debate and I welcome every bit of it. I look forward tomorrow to a debate in this House in which the minute details of the Opposition amendments——

I ask the Minister to give way please.

——will be considered. I will do so in an open, liberal way to ensure that we have the best legislation in place that circumstances permit.

As it is now 10.30 p.m., in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day, I am obliged to put the question, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 57.

  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Charlie.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Malley, Fiona.
  • O'Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.


  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J..
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Padraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McHugh, Paddy.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Murphy, Gerard.
  • Naughten, Denis
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairi.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.
Question declared carried.