International Protection Bill 2015 [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil]: Report and Final Stages

This is a Seanad Bill that has been amended by the Dáil. In accordance with Standing Order 118, it is deemed to have passed its First, Second and Third Stages in the Seanad and is placed on the Order Paper for Report Stage. On the question, "That the Bill be received for final consideration," the Minister may explain the purpose of the amendments made by the Dáil. This is looked upon as the report of the Dáil amendments to the Seanad. For the convenience of Senators, I have arranged for the printing and circulation to them of the amendments. The Minister will deal separately with the subject matter of each related group of amendments. I have also circulated the proposed groupings to the House. A Senator may contribute only once on each grouping. I remind Senators that the only matters that may be discussed are the amendments made by the Dáil.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be received for final consideration."

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of the amendments in group 1.

Amendment No. 1 provides for the Minister to appoint different dates for the repeal of different provisions of the Refugee Act 1996. It is straightforward.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of the amendments in group 2.

Amendment No. 2 is a minor amendment to the definition of the term "applicant". Amendment No. 3 provides a definition for the term "biometric information", which is increasingly important and referenced in section 2. Amendment No. 5 defines the term "DNA profile".

The amendments in group 3 relate to international protection officers and the chief international protection officer, the subject matters of amendments Nos. 4, 6, 95 and 96.

Amendment No. 4 provides the definition of the title "chief international protection officer", the person who will be responsible for the management of the international protection office which will be established by the Department of Justice and Equality. There is also a definition of the term "international protection officer" and a new section dealing with the independence of international protection officers in the performance of their duties. A further section allows for the appointment of the chief international protection officer and sets out that he or she will be independent in the performance of his or her functions under the Bill, as is currently the case.

Group 4 comprises amendment No. 7 on the subject matter of ceasing to be an applicant.

This amendment provides clarity on when a person ceases to be an applicant under the Bill.

Group 5 comprises amendment No. 8 on the subject matter of the service of documents.

This is a technical amendment. The advice of the Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General's office is that this subsection is not required.

Group 6 comprises amendments Nos. 9, 10, 37 and 43 on the subject matter of applications for international protection.

Amendment No. 9 is a technical amendment to add a comma. Amendment No. 10 amends and clarifies the information required to be provided by an applicant when making an application that may have a bearing on other matters to be considered by the Minister for Justice and Equality, as appropriate, at a later stage. Amendment No. 37 is a technical amendment, while amendment No. 43 clarifies that an application for international protection may be withdrawn by the applicant at any time, should he or she so desire, prior to the preparation of the report under section 38.

Group 7 comprises amendments Nos. 11 to 13, inclusive, on the subject matter of authorised persons nominated by the Minister.

The amendments delete technical provisions that are no longer required in the Bill.

Group 8 comprises amendments Nos. 14 and 15 on the subject matter of permission to enter and reside in the State.

Amendment No. 14 is a technical amendment, while amendment No. 15 is consequential on it.

Group 9 comprises amendment No. 16 on the subject matter of statements to be given to applicants.

This amendment is consequential on amendment No. 62.

The amendments in group 10 relate to authorised officers, the subject matter of amendments Nos. 17 and 18.

This grouping deals with the deletion of the term "authorised officer". We will now use the term "international protection officer", an independent office.

The amendments in group 11 relate to the taking of fingerprints, the subject matter of amendments Nos. 19 to 22, inclusive.

Amendment No. 19 adds to the list of circumstances in which an applicant's fingerprints for the purposes of the Bill are to be deleted.

Proposed amendment No. 20 inserts "or" at the end of subparagraph (a) to clarify that the subparagraphs are to be taken separately and not cumulatively. Amendment No. 21 is consequential on amendment No. 19. Amendment No. 22 deletes the definition of the term "authorised officer". As I stated, we are using the term "international protection officer" for clarity.

Amendments in group 12 relate to detention. The subject matter of amendments Nos. 23 to 27, inclusive, may now be discussed.

Amendment No. 23 provides for the inclusion of additional specific reasons an applicant can be detained. These relate to undermining the State's international protection system or an arrangement relating to the common travel area. Amendment No. 24 substantially gives effect to an amendment originally proposed in the Seanad by Senator Jillian van Turnhout that we undertook to examine. If a garda or immigration officer has reasonable grounds for believing someone has attained the age of 18 years, he or she shall get a second opinion from another officer. Obviously, we have had a lot of engagement on this and a number of other amendments I am accepting that will strengthen the Bill regarding the protection of children and ensure children's rights are well respected in what is very often a very difficult context for children and families. It is challenging for countries to deal with this effectively.

Amendment No. 25 is a technical amendment. Where an applicant in detention does not wish to proceed with his or her application for international protection and wishes to leave the State, the legislation provides that where a person is at the appeal stage of the process, any appeal under section 40 can be withdrawn, that is, if the individual himself or herself wants to withdraw it.

Amendment No. 26 provides for the prioritisation of the cases of applicants in detention. Amendment No. 27 is linked with amendment No. 23 which provides for the inclusion of additional specific reasons an applicant can be detained. It gives definitions for "arrangements relating to the Common Travel Area", "Common Travel Area territory", "substituted identity document" and "United Kingdom".

There are a number of amendments with which I do not agree. However, I wish to speak to only two of them, one of which is amendment No. 23. My concerns are also expressed by NGOs and groups such as the Irish Refugee Council, the Migrant Rights Centre and the NASC. The proposed section 20(1)(e) states an immigration officer or member of An Garda Síochána may arrest an applicant without warrant if that officer or member suspects, with reasonable cause, that the applicant has acted or intends to act in a manner that would undermine the system for granting persons international protection in the State or any arrangement relating to the common travel area.

The changes, especially the one relating to "the system for granting persons international protection", comprise a significant and unwarranted amendment to the powers of immigration officers and An Garda Síochána. The phrase "has acted or intends to act", coupled with the phrase "the system for granting persons international protection", is exceptionally vague and incapable of any form of certainty such that it could leave any person who applies for refugee status or subsidiary protection liable to arrest without a warrant. It is unclear why this change has been made but it is assumed that, because of the phrase "any arrangement relating to the Common Travel Area", it is aimed at people coming from the United Kingdom through the North. This has been effected because of the increase in the number of young Pakistani men coming from the United Kingdom and claiming asylum. It is possible that, when considered with section 77, it is intended to be a catch-all to give the authorities the power to prevent or interfere with a protection claim should the person gain entry to the State. Whatever the intention behind the amendment, it should not be added to the reasons a person can be arrested without warrant. It can undermine the very right to submit a protection application, even one that the authorities might deem to be without merit, and it has no place in an international protection system. Importantly, it also represents an arbitrary ground for detention leading to a potential violation of one's right to liberty, which is a core human right. The UNHCR guidelines on detention state clearly that detention must not be discriminatory or arbitrary. Therefore, the right to asylum must be respected at all times.

I thank the Minister and her officials for their engagement and taking on board my comments in the Seanad. I thank the Minister for raising the threshold in respect of children. Subsequent amendments take this on board so I thank her expressly in that regard also. She has tried to address some of my concerns. Obviously, the world is not ideal and perfect but the Minister has certainly strengthened children's rights within the Bill.

There are matters outside the remit of the Bill that were included in the Government working group's report on the protection process. These include the proposal to increase the weekly payment for children. There has been no change in 16 years. While it is outside the scope of the legislation, it is a matter that I believe is wrong leading up to Christmas. The remit of the Ombudsman for Children should be extended. As the Minister knows, Ireland is to be before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 14 January. This will be a highlight issue for that committee if Ireland has not moved on it. I really hope we will be in a position, before Christmas or, at the very latest, in early January, to welcome announcements from the Government. The current position is unacceptable, but I thank the Minister for what she has done in this regard.

I will respond to the points made by both Senators. With regard to detention and the section about which Senator David Cullinane is concerned, let me review what is in the section. An immigration officer or member of An Garda Síochána may arrest an applicant without warrant if that officer or member suspects, with reasonable cause, that the applicant has acted in one of the ways listed. The international circumstances have to be taken into account, both in terms of security and ensuring those who enter the country are genuine refugees. This is a very stark issue. Obviously, there is a considerable humanitarian crisis. We have responded as a country by taking 4,000 individuals over two years. These are mostly people who would clearly be deemed to be refugees because many of them are fleeing conflict in Syria. The recognition rate of such refugees is approximately 80% to 85%. That is the general position of the Government on the humanitarian crisis. Obviously, this is an ongoing problem and it will be discussed at various European Council meetings in the coming months.

The section is about people who would pose a threat to public security or order in the State, who have committed a serious non-political crime outside the State, who have not made reasonable efforts to establish their identity, or who have acted or intend to act in a manner that would undermine the system for granting persons international protection in the State. These are very serious issues. This is about the abuse of the system and people who would abuse it. Not recognising this is doing a disservice to genuine refugees, who deserve to get the best possible service from the State. Importantly, a person detained under the section "shall, as soon as practicable, be brought before a judge of the District Court assigned to the District Court district in which the person is being detained". There is an automatic provision built into the Bill that a District Court judge has to hear the case in such circumstances. That is a very substantial next stage. The Senator's concern is about the abuse of the measure or its application to a particular category of persons. As we know that there are people who will abuse the system - that is very clear - the safeguard involving the District Court is important. What we are including in the Bill is reasonable in terms of a state safeguarding its international protection system. There are other safeguards also. The legislation adds further appropriate reasons a person may be arrested if he is exploiting or abusing the common travel area. We know of the debate that is occurring internationally on this. This is a very appropriate measure.

I thank Senator Jillian van Turnhout for recognising the way in which we have dealt with the protection of children in the Bill.

This is an area which highlights very challenging issues and decisions. Children are in a very vulnerable position when their families travel around the world in the way that is happening. Many unaccompanied minors are travelling into Europe which poses particular challenges to many countries and doubtless will also prove to be a challenge here. That said, we have made great strides in this country in terms of the way we respond to unaccompanied minors. A very caring system of foster care is being developed for them.

In terms of the amendment before us, the Government has inserted numerous amendments in various sections of the Bill which refer to the best interest of the child, an issue which is close to my heart. That will be very protective for children and families in these situations when decisions are being made.

We will now move on to group 13, timeframe for appeal to inadmissible application, the subject matter of amendment No. 28.

This amendment provides that the Minister will prescribe a timeline for a person appealing a recommendation that his or her application is inadmissible.

Group 14 includes amendments Nos. 29 to 31, inclusive, which deal with subsequent applications.

Amendment No. 29 clarifies the relevant information required of an applicant in making a subsequent application for international protection. Amendment No. 30 is a technical, drafting amendment, while amendment No. 31 provides that the Minister will prescribe a timeframe for a person appealing a recommendation that consent be refused to the making of a subsequent application.

Group 15 includes amendments Nos. 32 to 34, inclusive, relating to medical examinations.

When we were discussing the Bill previously in this House and the Dáil, a number of points were made about the fact that an applicant would have to accept the medical practitioner nominated by the Minister to conduct a medical examination. I have reflected on these points and amended the provision to allow for the establishment of a new panel of qualified medical practitioners from which the applicant can make his or her own choice. Concern was expressed that there was not enough flexibility in the original drafting; therefore, I have agreed to the establishment of a qualified medical practitioner panel to give applicants more choice, as per amendment No. 34. The other two amendments in this grouping are consequential on this.

Group 16 contains three amendments relating to minors, amendments Nos. 35, 36 and 38.

Amendment No. 35 is a technical amendment. Amendment No. 36 is linked with the amendment we have just discussed and I acknowledge the input of Senator Jillian van Turnhout on this matter. Amendment No. 38 arose from further consideration of the best interests of the child principle and gives further reassurance that this principle is at the heart of the Bill. It provides specific safeguards as to the assessment of the child's capacity to understand the process.

Group 17 includes amendments Nos. 39 and 40, which relate to personal interviews.

These amendments deal with personal interviews. Amendment No. 39 is a technical amendment, while amendment No. 40 clarifies that the report to be prepared by the international protection officer following the conclusion of the personal interview can comprise two parts.

The amendments in group 18, amendments Nos. 41, 52 and 53, relate to the functions of the Minister.

Amendment No. 41 is technical, while amendment No. 52 provides that the Minister shall be responsible for providing an applicant with information on the estimated timeline within which a recommendation may be made. Amendment No. 53 is consequential on amendment No. 52.

Group 19 contains one amendment relating to child-specific protection needs, amendment No. 42.

This amendment arose from discussions in both the Seanad and Dáil Éireann. These discussions related to the competency of officers who were conducting interviews with children. It was argued that such officers should have an expertise in communication and child-specific protection needs. Having considered these matters and their importance, we have drafted a new section to provide for many of the concerns raised in the earlier debates on the Bill.

The amendments in group 20, amendments Nos. 44 to 46, inclusive, relate to failure to co-operate.

This group of amendments deals with the issue of failure to co-operate. Amendments Nos. 44 and 45 are consequential to amendment No. 14. Amendment No. 46 provides that where an applicant fails to co-operate, his or her application shall be examined on the basis of information submitted by him or her before this subsection applies.

Group 21 comprises amendments relating to the report prepared after an examination of an applicant, amendments Nos. 47 to 51, inclusive, and amendment No. 54.

These amendments deal with the contents of the written report prepared after an examination of an applicant. Amendment No. 47 is required to allow persons contracted by the Minister under section 73 to include any of the findings under section 38(4) in the written report prepared under section 38(1). Amendment No. 48 clarifies that the recommendation of the international protection officer under section 38(3) shall be based on the examination of the application. Amendment No. 49 is consequential on amendment No. 47. Amendment No. 50 removes unnecessary wording from the subsection while amendment No. 51 is consequential on amendment No. 46. Amendment No. 54 provides that the Minister will prescribe a timeframe for a person appealing a recommendation that he or she should not be given refugee status, a refugee declaration or a subsidiary protection declaration. This is building in timelines which is precisely what people argued had been lacking in the procedures to date, with many people awaiting the outcome of their applications for protracted periods of time.

The amendments in group 22 relate to appeals. These are amendments Nos. 55 to 60, inclusive, and amendment No. 98.

These are technical amendments which deal with the issue of appeals. Amendment No. 56 clarifies that an applicant may withdraw his or her appeal at any time before the tribunal makes its decision. Some of the other amendments in the group are consequential on this amendment. Amendment No. 98 inserts a new section into the Bill relating to the Minister prescribing periods of time within which persons may appeal to the tribunal. This applies to section 21(6) on inadmissible applications, section 22(8) on subsequent applications, section 40(2)(a) dealing with a recommendation that an applicant should not be given a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration and section 42(a) on accelerated appeals. It provides for a variety of timelines in the context of appeals.

Group 23 contains one amendment, amendment No. 61, dealing with voluntary return.

This is a minor technical amendment to include the words “where applicable” before “withdraws”.

Group 24 comprises amendment No. 62 which relates to permission to remain.

This substantial amendment to section 48 sets out the procedure to be applied in the context of the Minister’s consideration of whether an applicant should be given permission to remain in the State in the event that his or her protection application is refused. The amendment sets out the matters the Minister shall have regard to in deciding whether to give a person a permission under this section. This includes any information submitted by an applicant prior to the preparation of the report under section 38 and any relevant information presented by the applicant during the applicant’s preliminary and personal interview. The Minister shall also have regard to the applicant’s family and personal circumstances and his or her right to respect for his or her private and family life. The amendment places a duty on the applicant to notify the Minister immediately of any change in circumstances which may be relevant to the Minister’s decision.

This amendment goes further than those amendments tabled by Senators Denis O’Donovan, David Cullinane, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Kathryn Reilly in that it provides for the Minister to review a decision made under this section where the tribunal affirms a negative recommendation and the applicant submits new relevant information. I have taken on board the points that were made during the debate on this section. The amendment also provides that the Minister shall prescribe the period following a decision of the tribunal for the purposes of the applicant submitting such new information in respect of the review. This allows the Minister to take account of new information that may emerge and be brought to the Minister's attention. It is important that there is flexibility in the system in the context of the question of granting permission to remain.

Group 25 comprises amendments Nos. 63 to 66, inclusive, which relate to refoulement and deportation orders.

Amendment No. 63 clarifies what information the Minister will have regard to in deciding whether a person can be returned to his or her country of origin. It also provides that an applicant informs the Minister of any change of circumstances that may have a bearing on the Minister’s decision in this regard.

Amendment No. 64 clarifies that a permission given to a person under this section is a permission under section 4 of the Immigration Act 2004.

Amendments Nos. 65 and 66 are minor technical amendments.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 26.

Group 26, amendments Nos. 67 to 69, inclusive, deals with the issue of permission to enter and reside of family members.

Amendment No. 67 clarifies and confirms the time period for the making of an application under this section.

Amendment No. 68 is linked with and consequential on amendment No. 69. Amendment No. 69 inserts a time limit of 12 months within which an application can be made under this section. This amendment brings section 56 into line with section 55 in this regard. An application made under this section is in respect of a person already in the State and, therefore, this time limit should not create any difficulty.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 27.

Group 27, amendment No. 70, deals with the issue of vulnerable persons. Amendment No. 70 is a minor amendment whereby the phrase “child under the age of 18 years” is to be replaced by the more precise term “person who has not attained the age of 18 years”.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 28.

Group 28, amendments Nos. 71 to 74, inclusive, are primarily minor drafting amendments. Amendment No. 72 is a minor drafting amendment which substitutes the word “may” for “shall". Amendment No. 73 is a minor drafting amendment. Amendment No. 74 is consequential to amendment No. 90.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 29.

Group 29, amendments Nos. 75 to 90, inclusive, deals with transitional caseloads. Amendment No. 75 clarifies how the new Bill, when commenced, will apply to applicants detained under section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996. Amendment No. 76 is necessary to replace an incorrect reference to “Part 4” and replace it with a reference to “Part 5”. Amendment No. 80 clarifies where the Act of 1996 continues to apply to a person under the transitional provisions and a refugee declaration is given to such a person, the declaration shall be deemed to be a refugee declaration given to the person under this Act and the provisions of this Act shall apply accordingly. Amendments Nos. 83 to 90, inclusive, all deal with the transitional issues which will apply when the Bill becomes law.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 30.

Group 30, amendment No. 91, means that this transitional provision is not required. The Minister may, by order, under section 71, designate countries as safe countries of origin on commencement of the Bill. Senators will be aware this is an issue being discussed at European level.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 31.

Group 31, amendments Nos. 92 to 94, inclusive, deals with the issue of prioritisation of cases. Amendment No. 93 is prompted by discussion in the Seanad and the Dáil which sought to add categories that would be considered for prioritisation. As “well founded” is not defined in law, we could not proceed with that category, but the Government is happy to add to the prioritisation list this reference to those in the care of the Child and Family Agency. I am particularly pleased this amendment has been inserted. All Senators will have come across situations where children are in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 32.

Group 32, amendment No. 97, clarifies the functions which can be performed by persons contracted by the Minister under contracts for services.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 33.

Group 33, amendment No. 99, allows for a person, against whom a deportation order is in force and who has completed a prison sentence for a criminal offence, to be arrested and detained for the purpose of bringing him or her directly to a port from the prison and removing him or her from the State.

I call on the Minister to speak to the subject matter of group 34.

Group 34, amendments Nos. 100 to 104, inclusive, deals with the common travel area. Amendment No. 100 clarifies that a court can direct the continued detention or conditional release of a person, subject to a deportation order in situations where they are challenging either the validity of the deportation order itself or a subsequent decision by the Minister to affirm the order. Amendment No. 101 is similar to the above in that it clarifies that the period spent challenging the validity of a deportation order or a decision, under section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999, to affirm an order of the Minister is excluded when calculating the maximum eight-week period of detention which is allowable to make the arrangements to enforce a deportation order. Amendment No. 102 is a technical amendment. Amendment No. 103 clarifies that a person arrested under this section may be brought to a place of detention referred to in the following subparagraphs and detained there.

Amendment No. 104 aims to strengthen our immigration provisions to deal specifically with infringements of the integrity of the common travel area. The amendment, which amends section 4(3) of the Immigration Act 2004, provides that an immigration officer may refuse a person leave to land if he or she is satisfied that the person is entering the State for the sole purpose of extending his or her stay in the common travel area. Such a person can be refused leave to land, irrespective of whether the person intends to make an application for international protection. There are large numbers of persons who have spent a period in the United Kingdom, exploiting the common travel area, entering our State and claiming asylum to prolong their stay.

We need a balanced migration policy on refugees coming to this country. It is assumed that approximately 85% of those in the relocation programme will be deemed to be refugees. In terms of those who are not, a point also emphasised at European level, the safe countries of origin list is part of the intention to have a balanced migration policy to ensure we can deal effectively with it.

The humanitarian issues are enormous regarding the movement of refugees from places of conflict. We are complying fully with European and international law as to how we assess and deal with those seeking international protection. The Government considers it extremely important that we do that and take full account of the humanitarian issues but also of the possibility of people being subject to persecution in other countries and who meet the criteria outlined for international protection. It is important they be dealt with in the most humane and effective way. However, if people are exploiting this system, we need to be conscious of this, too, and deal with it in the right way.

On amendment No. 104, our concerns are not about preventing exploitation or abuse of the system. We all want to ensure there are proper protections in place. We have to protect our borders, sovereignty and have an immigration system in place. The point is that it has to be fair and robust, with safeguards built into it for those seeking asylum. Most importantly, we have to live up to our obligations under international, UN, EU, domestic law and, crucially, the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Irish Refugee Council has called amendment No. 104 a shocking provision which fundamentally undermines not only the right to asylum as guaranteed under the Charter of Fundamental Rights but also the Dublin III Regulation which also governs the allocation of member states’ responsibility for the examination of an application for international protection. This is a broad extension of the grounds for refusing leave to land which, in the Irish Refugee Council’s opinion, raises serious concerns that people seeking protection will be denied even entry into the State.

It also extends way beyond and is disproportionate to the objective to be achieved, which is, as I stated, state sovereignty over one's borders, in the light of the fact that the Bill already provides for inadmissibility provisions under section 21 and that the Dublin III Regulation referred to would also be applicable in such circumstances. Relevant rights that may be violated under this new provision include: the right to asylum; the right to an effective remedy; the right to equality before the law and non-discrimination; the prohibition on collective expulsions relating to Article 19 of the charter; and the prohibition on non-refoulement. It may also violate the right to good administration which is Article 41 of the charter, as there are no clear procedural safeguards allowing the opportunity, for example, for a person to be heard before being denied entry into the State.

These are concerns expressed not just by us in Sinn Féin. As I stated, non-governmental organisations, NGOs, also share them. We raise these issues not because we do not want the Minister to put in place proper protection for the State or we want people to be able to abuse or exploit the system, as we must ensure that does not happen. We must close any potential loophole and the system must be robust. Nevertheless, it must also be fair. In circumstances where we do not see it being fair, we have a responsibility to call it as such, which is what we are doing with the amendment. I ask the Minister to reconsider the issue and listen to the views of the NGOs that have lobbied all of us on this and a number of other amendments.

I only speak to two amendments as they are the most contentious and warrant more scrutiny. I ask the Minister to speak to amendment No. 104.

There is much discussion about the integrity of the Schengen area. There is a debate in trying to put in place a protection system that would be effective for the thousands of migrants moving into Europe. The countries in the Schengen area want to protect the integrity of their borders rather than seeing countries putting up walls and retreating on the issue of free movement.

It is very important to recognise the point that every day, people probably come to our airports and ports who do not have a right to come to the country. It is equally important to recognise that thousands of people come to the country every year with work visas and who are given the opportunity to work here. Just last week, we had a citizenship ceremony for several thousand people who had obeyed all the rules and reached all the criteria. It is very important that we recognise diversity and that we have many legal means to arrive in Ireland. It is a key feature of asylum and dealing with the refugee crisis in Europe that we would increase the legal means for people to enter Europe, whether it is from Africa or other countries. This is an area that needs to be focused on more.

Equally, if people are exploiting the system, we must recognise that and be clear about it. No person will be refused entry to the State where it is clear there is a genuine need for protection. The amendment refers to the previous point, where we will take steps to protect the integrity of the common travel area. Everybody in the country wants to protect the integrity of the common travel area as it is very important. If it is being undermined or it is the case that people could have applied for asylum, for example, in the United Kingdom and it is appropriate that they do so, we have an obligation as a country to maintain the integrity of the common travel area. That is what is intended by this provision. Taking account of all the issues I mentioned, including the number of people who on a daily basis may try to gain entry illegally - it is a recorded fact that several thousand are doing so - we can contrast the numbers of people who may enter the country legally and are welcomed. We can see the diversity in the country, which adds to the State in a variety of ways. It is a reasonable amendment for the Government to table.

I welcome to the Visitors Gallery Cathal and Máire Gorman from Belfast who are guests of Senator Diarmuid Wilson. They are very welcome.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Before concluding the proceedings, I would be obliged if, in accordance with Standing Order 136, the Cathaoirleach would direct the Clerk to make the following minor drafting amendment to the text of the Bill. On page 76, line 20, the word "without" should be deleted as the text inserted by amendment No. 99 would have the effect of duplicating this word. This correction is being made in the interests of textual clarity and does not affect any substantive amendment.

I will direct the Clerk to make the correction.

Question put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 21; Níl, 2.

  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Cahill, Máiría.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Gilroy, John.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Cullinane, David.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators David Cullinane and Kathryn Reilly.
Question declared carried.

I wish everybody a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

The Seanad adjourned at noon until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 13 January 2016.