International Protection Bill 2015: Committee Stage

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. I would like to bring a technical matter to the attention of the House before we begin. An asterisk has been incorrectly included with amendment No. 160, in the names of Senators Denis O'Donovan, David Cullinane, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Kathryn Reilly. Amendment No. 161 should have an asterisk to indicate it is being proposed by the Government. I think the asterisk that should appear with amendment No. 161 has incorrectly been included with amendment No. 160. It is just a technical glitch.

SECTION 1
Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit. Sílim go bhfuil sé tráthúil gurb é féin atá tagtha isteach leis an reachtaíocht seo a phlé. An féidir linn soiléiriú a fháil ar ghné amháin den Bhille? Dúradh anseo inné nach bhfuil ach 26 moladh as na moltaí ar fad a rinne an grúpa oibrithe a chuir an tAire Stáit le chéile clúdaithe sa Bhille atá os ár gcomhair. D'fhógair an tAire sinsireach agus an tAire Stáit go raibh 170 moladh i gceist ar an lá a d'fhoilsigh siad an tuairisc úd. Níl sé soiléir domsa ná do na dreamanna lena raibh mé ag caint céard iad na moltaí atá curtha san áireamh agus céard iad na moltaí nach bhfuil curtha san áireamh. B'fhéidir go mbeidh an tAire Stáit in ann soiléiriú a thabhairt dom céard iad an 26 moladh atá curtha ar aghaidh sa Bhille seo agus céard atá ag tarlú leis an 144 moladh eile. It was stated by the Minister and a number of Senators last night that 26 of the recommendations set out in the report of the working group that was initiated by the Minister of State were included and covered in the Bill. I wonder whether the Minister of State will clarify for us which of the 170 recommendations in the report are among the 26 recommendations included in the Bill and which of them are not.

I am not going to read out the report for the Senator. I am not going to go through the 26 recommendations that are covered and those that are not. I am here to speak on the Bill. If the Senator wants me to speak to amendments, I will do so. If he wants me to go through the entirety of the working group report on the protection process, I will not do so. The report is an historic document because it marks the first time in the history of the direct provision system that this issue is actually being reformed. I will not go through each and every recommendation. Many of them are works in progress. I am here to speak on the Bill and to the amendments that have been proposed.

An bhfuil an Seanadóir sásta?

Nílim sásta beag ná mór, i ndáiríre. I am not trying to be vexatious I am trying to find out what is included in this legislation and what is not. The Minister and the Minister of State's colleagues in this House said last night that 26 of the specific recommendations made in the working group report were covered in the Bill. I am just looking for clarification. If the Minister of State does not want to give us that clarification now, I do not mind going through all 170 recommendations individually and asking the Minister of State whether they are in. This is a matter of huge importance. We have been waiting for this Bill for quite a long time. The Minister of State has made strong statements on how he would like changes in the system to happen. I have been asking questions on that matter for a long time, as have the non-governmental organisations with which I have been engaging. We are seeking clarification from the Minister of State regarding where we are at with the recommendations in the specific Bill before the House.

Okay. We are on section 1.

I think that is a fair question.

Cheap mé gur gnáthcheist a chuirtear go minic sa Seanad ar Chéim an Choiste, go háirithe sa chéad díospóireacht, a bhí sa cheist a chuir an Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil sé réasúnta go leor mar cheist. Bhí ionadh orm nuair a chuala mé a leithéid de fhreagra ón Aire Stáit. I am surprised by the Minister of State's response to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh's reasonable question, which is in keeping with the type of question that is regularly put at the start of Committee Stage debates.

I welcome the Minister of State and commend him for his great and well documented commitment to the reform of the direct provision system, which I think is accepted by everyone. When we all spoke about this on Second Stage last night, I was one of the many Senators who highlighted the need to reform the direct provision procedure and deal with the implementation of all the working group's recommendations. I accept that they cannot all be implemented. I think most Senators will agree it is reasonable to say they cannot all be addressed in a single Bill. As everyone knows, this is a specific piece of what was originally a much bigger Bill. This legislation is designed to address the length of time applicants have been spending in the direct provision system. This issue is the subject of perhaps the most significant recommendation of the working group and is the most significant issue we all have with direct provision. As I said this morning, it is unfortunate that we are getting so much legislation from the Department of Justice and Equality so late in the day. As the Labour Party's justice spokesperson in this House, I am conscious, as are all the other justice spokespersons, that a great deal of work will have to be done within a very short space of time. The principle of this important Bill has been welcomed by all the non-governmental organisations. They are all pleased that for the first time, a reformed single procedure will be put in place to replace the unwieldy, cumbersome and deeply flawed process that is currently in place under the Refugee Act 1996, as amended. I think all of us should recognise that while we address the flaws in the Bill. This is a Committee Stage debate. I do not think it is appropriate to be having Second Stage speeches on direct provision more generally now. The Bill is designed to address the particular issue of the enormous delays currently being experienced by applicants for refugee status because of the length of time our flawed process takes.

We are on section 1. I will put the question.

I would like to come back in, if that is possible.

Yes, but I suppose the position is that if the Minister of State is unwilling to comply with the Senator's request, I cannot extract from him-----

I am about to rephrase what I said.

I agree with much of what Senator Ivana Bacik has said. I am certainly not making a Second Stage speech.

I do not want to waste time discussing recommendations that are not covered by the Bill. I am trying to find out what the scope of the debate should be because the Bill has come to us at such a late stage. I am trying to garner from the Minister of State information on which sections of the working group's recommendations are supposedly covered in the Bill. I will give an example. Chapter 1 of the report provides an overview of the protection system and application trends. Does the Bill cover the recommendations made in that chapter only? Are these recommendations the only ones we are discussing? Does the Bill also cover the recommendations made in chapter 2, which sets out the views of people in the protection system? Does it have anything to do with the suggested improvements to the existing determination process as set out in chapter 3? Are we touching on the system of direct provision? Are we looking at chapter 4 which talks about suggested improvements to living conditions in direct provision accommodation centres? Chapter 5 of the report relates to suggested improvements to supports for people in the system.

This is not a debate on the report; it is a debate on the Bill that has been brought before the House.

The report is absolutely relevant, however.

We have spoken about the report.

Of course, it is relevant.

I am going to make a ruling. I always try to be fair to everyone. I know where the Senator is coming from. Perhaps the details he is looking for will unfold as each section and each amendment is debated. That is the only way to resolve this. If the Senator is not happy as the debate continues, he has the option of calling a vote.

I am not contesting the ruling of the Chair. Last night the Minister and the Government Senators told us that the Bill covered 26 of the 170 recommendations. I want to make sure I do not waste time later in this debate. I want to focus on the elements of the Bill that relate to the recommendations of the working group that was set up by the Minister of State.

With all due respect to the Senator, I still believe that as we deal with the Bill section by section and amendment by amendment, it will be obvious which of the recommendations are covered and which are not. May I put the question on the section?

For the record, I do not think it is clear which recommendations are included and which are not. The Bill has been brought to the House at a very late stage. The Government has already proposed more than 150 amendments to it. Where exactly we stand is anything but clear.

Section 1 merely provides for the Title of the Bill. The Minister of State has already given his view on the query raised by the Senator. I am sure he is not going to change it. I am putting the question.

I would like to make a comment on the Title of the Bill.

On the Title, yes.

There has been a great deal of talk about scrapping the system of direct provision. People have said we should get rid of it. I wonder, therefore, why the Bill is not called the international protection (abolition of the direct provision system) Bill. Can I put that question to the Minister of State? Are we discussing-----

I will let the Minister of State respond to it.

This is the protection Bill. It deals with a large number of the recommendations set out in the report of the working group on direct provision. The system of direct provision has been a disaster for the families involved. It was a six-month solution that turned into a 12-year or 13-year solution. Nobody who is engaged in this process ever suggested the direct provision system be abolished. I never said it. Nobody I know who has a sense of what the issues are would suggest that it be abolished. If we abolish direct provision, many asylum seekers will end up homeless. That was the reality in 2000 when the system came into operation. There were reports of people seeking asylum in this country sleeping in parks. The system of direct provision was entered into to provide short-term accommodation for individuals who are in desperate need. I could stand over that system if the accommodation was of an excellent standard, if the system was family-centred, if the individuals within the system were treated with dignity and if applications were dealt with speedily, transparently and fairly. I cannot stand over it if the accommodation becomes somebody's long-term home. Is the Senator is suggesting we put everybody who seeks asylum in this country on the housing list or in homeless accommodation?

That will be the direct result of the abolition of the direct provision system.

The overarching problem with the system of direct provision is the length of stay. I have always said I can stand over a system in which people live with dignity and respect for a period of months in a centre that looks after them and cares for their needs. I cannot stand over a system which effectively becomes an institution in which families and children grow up. The length of stay is the issue. If we abolish direct provision we must prepare for 3,000 applicants a year on housing lists throughout the country and parks filled with people sleeping on benches. That is what we had in 2000 and I will not return to it. I will stand over a system of direct provision as a short-term solution which solves people's accommodation needs as they seek an application for protection in this country. If it is positively received they will have leave to remain and if it is not they must leave. This is the reality. It comes as no surprise to me that those who protest about the abolition of direct provision have slogans with no effect on real life. In fairness, Senators have worked very hard on this issue. There is no far-right lunatic conservative voice in this or the other Chamber demanding a tougher stance. We are all looking for a humanitarian response. Throwing out one-liners and hashtags to abolish direct provision is fine but it is not a solution. This is the solution. This is why I say we should pick through the individual amendments and work collectively to achieve something and not waste our time on grandstanding.

We are still discussing the Title off the Bill.

I welcome this clarification on where the Government stands. I would have thought from debates in the Seanad previously that a number of Senators on all sides of the House have called for the abolition of the system of direct provision. I am certainly one of them. It is now clear there is nothing in the Bill which will abolish direct provision and that it is here to stay as a system. Nothing in the Bill will change the conditions.

What is the alternative? The Senator does not have one.

I just want to clarify that.

What is your alternative?

The Minister of State has explained it well and we should move on.

You do not have one.

There are a number of alternatives.

We should move on to the other sections of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 2

Amendments Nos. 1, 3, 15, 64, 65, 67, 68, 72, 74, 75, 80 to 82, inclusive, 85, 86, 91, 95, 96, 100, 101, 103, 105, 106, 109, 110, 113, 114, 116, 117, 120 to 123, inclusive, 126, 128 to 131, inclusive, 133, 134, 149 to 154, inclusive, 159, 165, 166, 169, 172, 175, 177, 222 to 226, inclusive, and 230 form a composite proposal and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 1:
In page 8, to delete lines 11 to 14.

All of these are Government amendments apart from amendment No. 231 in the name of Senator Denis O'Donovan. They relate mainly to the insertion of references to an international protection officer instead of an authorised officer. Authorised officer had been used initially as a standard formulation. The new insertions better reflect the functions to be carried out by such officers under the Bill. Not surprisingly, therefore, according to amendment No. 1 the old references to authorised officers or persons are deleted. As work is ongoing on the definition, which will be shaped by the functions under the finalised Bill, I will not move amendment No. 3 but instead will come back to it at a later point if it proves necessary. I will not move amendment No. 159 for similar reasons.

Amendment No. 231 proposes the insertion of a reference to a valid search warrant. I wish to clarify the purpose of this section is to address a number of loopholes which emerged in the existing section 5 of the Immigration Act 1999 relating to the State's capacity to remove from the State persons who have no entitlement to be here. The existing provisions of section 5(1) of the 1999 Act, which I restate in the proposed replacement section, already permits the arrest of persons against whom a deportation order is enforced on various grounds. The proposed text of the new section 5(11) of the 1999 Act permits entry to a dwelling for the purpose of making the arrest. The provision follows very closely the term of section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999. That section also permits entry to a premises without a warrant. In both cases there are safeguards in that the consent of the occupier will be required, save where the person to be arrested normally resides there or the immigration officer or member of An Garda Síochána believes on reasonable grounds that the person is within the dwelling. Clearly, the provision does not permit speculative entry without consent. It should also, therefore, be borne in mind that if a person leaves the State when he or she is supposed to this situation does not arise.

These amendments are mostly very much technical in terms of replacing references to authorised officer with international protection officer, which seems sensible, but the Leader, Senator Maurice Cummins, and I have raised as an issue the practice of so many technical amendments being inserted on Committee Stage to a Bill published a week previously. It is unfortunate we must do so and that it was not published with references to the international protection officer. Most colleagues would agree that international protection officer appears to be a better term. I have no difficulty with the substance of the amendments, it is just the timing.

I accept the Minister's response on amendment No. 231 and I will not press it. I agree with Senator Ivana Bacik. Ministers and their civil servants should take note that this is an appalling way to deal with legislation which is only a few weeks old. It is very difficult to follow. I was not expecting amendment No. 231 to be grouped here because it is not on the list of groupings. The page is different to the screen. Can we rely on the sheet we have been given on the grouping of amendments? It is nice to be prepared as amendments come up. Someone at senior Government level should address this issue. They may be called technical amendments, but many of them are substantial and it seems like a crazy way to do things. It is all being rushed now because the Houses of the Oireachtas and certainly the Dáil will probably not sit after Christmas and Ministers are keen for their legacies.

Will the Leas-Cathaoirleach clarify whether we go by the printed listing we were sent or what is shown on the screen?

To clarify, according to my notes amendment No. 231 is not included in the first list.

No, it is not included.

It is not on our list either.

I received a note that amendments Nos. 3 and 159 will not be moved by the Minister of State. Is amendment No. 231 on the list the Minister of State has?

My information is that the grouping comprises all Government amendments, with the exception of amendment No. 231 in the name of Senator Denis O'Donovan.

With the exception of amendment No. 231.

The rest of the amendments in the group are Government amendments.

Yes, we are only dealing with Government amendments.

My point is not a huge one, it is that the list does not seem to be correct.

We will not get bogged down and deal with issues as we go along.

No, we will be bogged down because we must be ready for amendments. I did not know amendment No. 231 was going to be discussed in the first group.

I am in the Chair and the list I have gone through for section 2 which is quite substantial does not include amendment No. 231. It is not a Government amendment.

Therefpre, it is not to be discussed.

No, I have not mentioned it.

It is fine if it is not to be discussed.

I propose that we leave amendment No. 231 until we reach it, in accordance with the list we all received.

It is not on my list. We will take it on its own.

The Senator is making a reasonable point.

I agree with the point made by Senator Ivana Bacik. In fairness, the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill was in preparation for a considerable period and much work had been done in this area. It is very disconcerting to receive a Bill and have so many amendments tabled by the Government within a couple of days of receiving it. It strikes those with whom I have been discussing the Bill, particularly in the NGO sector, that it is very much a half-baked Bill which is being rushed at the last minute to push it through.

I want to register our major concerns about the way this is being pushed through and the fact that the debate will be guillotined on Monday.

In my short time in the House I do not think I have heard the Government withdraw its amendments. Is there provision in Standing Orders for that?

It is the same as Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Thomas Byrne withdrawing an amendment at any stage before they move it.

He is not moving it.

What is the difference?

I hope we keep to the grouping list that has been supplied to us, a technical point on which everybody is agreed. I support the renaming of the authorised officer as an international protection officer. While it could be argued that we are getting into semantics, it sends out an important message.

I am concerned that amendment No. 3 is not being moved because it contains the definition of an international protection officer. Perhaps the Minister of State might advise us on that because if Report Stage is taken on Monday we will need to know what is being put in its place. I have tabled two amendments, but they refer to an authorised officer. What terminology should be used? I do not want to table amendments which are then out of order with the Bill because the same language is not being used. Perhaps the Minister of State might clarify why it is not being moved.

Perhpas the Minister of State might clarify the matter. My understanding is that he is entitled not to move a particular amendment, in the same manner as Members are so entitled. If the Senator needs an explanation-----

It concerns definitions. That is what I am trying to understand.

Let the Minister of State respond.

It is a timing issue. Amendment No. 230 has to be passed. Our intention is to not move the amendment and then come back to it at a later stage.

It is not being reworded, then. I thank the Minister of State for the clarification.

As the Minister of State said, amendment No. 230 must be passed first because it provides for the new section 73 on international protection officers. Amendment No. 3 relates to that matter, but it was listed first.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment Nos. 2, 4, 69, 83, 146, 164 and 180 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 2:
In page 9, to delete lines 3 and 4.

This is a group of Government amendments relating to the use of the term "legal assistance" instead of "free legal assistance", as used in the published version of the Bill. The term "legal assistance" is defined in section 2 of the Bill as including legal aid legal advice. Therefore, we are adjusting the wording across the Bill to reflect this.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.
Government amendment No. 4:
In page 9, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:
“ “legal assistance” means legal aid or legal advice, within the meaning of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995;”.
Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 5, 18, 77, 94, 163, 173 and 221 are technical drafting amendments and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 5:
In page 9, line 38, to delete “section 34” and substitute “section 34(1)”.

These Government amendments are correcting cross-references and numbers across the Bill and, therefore, are of a technical nature.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, 19, 20, 26, 27, 136, 138 and 141 to 143, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed?

The list we have does not include amendment No. 141. Is it included? The list refers to amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, 19, 20, 26, 27, 136, 138, 142 and 143.

Our list includes amendment No. 141. We will go by my list. Is that agreed?

The difficulty is that the grouping list we received is different. It may be a small amendment, but it could be substantive.

It is not being excluded. Rather, it is not included in the group.

No. The Leas-Chathaoirleach has added an additional one-----

We can still take it.

To clarify, I said amendments Nos. 141 to 143, inclusive, would be discussed together. The Senator said amendment No. 141 was not on her list.

It is not on our list.

Amendment No. 141 is one of our amendments.

I am instructed that this is the official list. It is on the screen.

On a point of order, that is an amendment that we put forward, and I am happy for it to be included in the group if other Senators agree. It is indicative of the chaos of the Bill that we do not even have the correct groupings.

In fairness, the difficulty with the amendment groupings is that they should be ad idem but are not, which is regrettable. The Senator is not objecting to the inclusion of amendment No. 141?

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 10, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:

“ “Representative” means a person or an organisation appointed by the competent bodies in order to assist and represent an unaccompanied minor in procedures provided for in Article 2(n) of the Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32EU with a view to ensuring the best interests of the child and exercising legal capacity for the minor where necessary. Where an organisation is appointed as a representative, it shall designate a person responsible for carrying out the duties of representative in respect of the unaccompanied minor, in accordance with this Directive;”.

I am stepping in at short notice for the Leas-Chathaoirleach, who is obviously indisposed with regard to making the arguments because he has to be neutral, and I am delighted to do so. There is no such thing in Standing Orders as technical amendments. The Bill has to be read very carefully, and that can be very difficult to do when things are rushed at the last minute. Senators and the Government, in particular, have an important role in making sure things are done right. The worry is that rushed legislation becomes bad law.

The amendment comes from the work of the Irish Refugee Council which recommended that a new provision be inserted into the Bill for the appointment of an independent representative or guardian to act in the best interests of a child in line with EU and international obligations under section 2 of the Bill. Representatives should be free of potential conflicts of interest. The Irish Refugee Council said Ireland could adopt the definition of representative under Article 2(n) of the asylum procedures directive.

Amendment No. 7 is also in the name of the Leas-Chathaoirleach. Although section 14 goes some way towards defining an unaccompanied minor, there still seems to be a lack of clarity as to how a determination is made as to whether someone is taking responsibility for the care and protection of the child concerned. The amendment, which I understand has also been drafted by the Irish Refugee Council, will bring the Bill more in line with the Separated Children in Europe programme and the UNHCR definition of separated children. The definition was also recommended by the Irish Human Rights Commission as part of its observations on the 2008 Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. I will discuss the other amendments at a later stage. They are not all Fianna Fáil amendments.

I concur. I am speaking about amendment No. 8, which states: " "separated child" means a child under the age of 18 years who is outside his or her country of nationality or, if a stateless person, outside his or her country of habitual residence and who is separated from both parents, or from his or her previous legal or customary caregiver". Although section 14 goes some way towards defining an unaccompanied minor, there is still a lack of clarity, as has been said, on how a determination is made as to whether someone is taking responsibility for the care and protection of a child. This is particularly concerning in light of a potential situation in which a child has been trafficked. The proposed amendment would bring the Bill more in line with the Separated Children in Europe programme and the UNHCR definition of separated children. This definition was also recommended, as Senator Thomas Byrne said, by the Irish Human Rights Commission as part of its observations on the 2008 version of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC, and the UNHCR also define separated children and unaccompanied minors in their guidelines.

I would also like to speak on amendment No. 19, which states: "In page 18, line 8, to delete “that” and substitute “or when a person self-identifies that they are”." Given the important ramifications, if a person is determined to be an adult it is imperative that this decision is reached in a cautious manner and based on the guidance of other actors, including the Child and Family Agency, as opposed to on the basis of one officer's subjective opinion. When a person presents as a child, it is imperative that he or she is treated as such. This also reflects the principle of the child's right to be heard under Article 12 of the CRC. In cases of doubt the person should be treated as being aged under 18 years of age until such time as there is sufficient evidence to the contrary.

Amendment No. 20 seeks to insert the phrase "a parent or legal or customary caregiver". The rationale is that, as it stands, there is a lack of clarity in the Bill about whether a minor is deemed accompanied or unaccompanied. In law and international best practice, a child is either accompanied by a parent or guardian or is an unaccompanied or separated child. Sections 14 and 15 of the Bill make reference to a responsible adult.

The term is not defined and does not accord with Irish law unlike the term "guardian". This responsible adult has extensive powers, enabling him or her to make an application for international protection on behalf of a potentially unaccompanied or separated child under section 15, including the power to consent to a medical examination of the child without that person's relationship to the child ever having been established. The adult could be a friend, brother, sister or, equally, the child's trafficker. That covers amendments Nos. 19 and 20. We are suggesting amendment No. 27 with a similar rationale.

Amendment No. 136 would delete the word "of" and insert the phrase "and competency to take into account". The examination of a separated child's asylum claim requires not only expertise in children's rights but also child protection needs in the context of refugee status and subsidiary protection. Children may often present with different protection needs from adults and, therefore, such cases require particular expertise and skill to identify correctly any persecution or serious harm the child may fear or face if returned to the country of origin. This amendment serves to clarify the knowledge required by authorised officers who conduct interviews with separated children. The new subsection would also guarantee that children would be able to be heard in a safe environment during their personal interview and that the interview would be conducted in a child-friendly manner. The other two suggestions, amendments Nos. 138 and 142, follow a similar rationale.

On amendment No. 143, the language is self-explanatory. It requires that the interview be conducted in a child-appropriate manner and that the officer conducting the interview should have expertise in communicating with children to ensure the child's voice is heard and considered in line with his age, maturity and capacity. The amendment speaks for itself. Is the Minister of State going to support it?

Does Senator Jillian van Turnhout wish to comment?

I will wait to hear what the Minister of State says.

I will go through the responses. The view is not to accept amendment No. 6. The term "Representative" is not used in the Bill and therefore does not need to be defined in section 2. The only reference in the Bill is to a legal representative, which is defined.

Amendment No. 7 refers to page 10, line 27. Is that correct? I need your assistance, a Leas-Chathaoirligh.

It has been discussed with this group, as outlined. The only note I have on amendment No. 7 is that if the question on amendment No. 7 is agreed, amendment No. 8 cannot be moved. However, we have not got to amendment No. 7 yet.

I can give an individual answer to each amendment, but unfortunately my answers are detailed in respect of their position in the Bill and their numbering. I may need your guidance.

To be fair, the groupings have been agreed and will be dealt with together. Senators have spoken about the grouping as a whole. The Minister of State can respond individually to all of them now.

I will address amendment No. 7 first. The relevant term does not need to be defined. It is not a term used in the text of the Bill. All children who arrive in the State are protected by the provisions of the Bill and the best interests of the child are paramount.

Amendment No. 8 is next. The Bill reflects the EU directive in respect of where a stateless person is not defined and therefore the amendment is not being accepted.

I will not accept amendment No. 19. The applicant will be asked his or her date of birth as part of his or her initial interview. That is how the situation will be dealt with.

Amendment No. 20 is next in the grouping. My view and the view of the Department is not to accept the amendment. We are concerned that the suggested amendment is too narrow. A child may be accompanied by a responsible person. That is not covered in the suggested amended text.

Amendment No. 26 would replace “information” and substitute “information, including legal advice” as the basis on which the Child and Family Agency shall arrange for the appointment of an employee or other person to make an application for international protection on behalf of a child in respect of whom he or she is providing care and protection. This reflects the reality that legal advice may be relevant in the operation of the subsection by the agency in respect of an individual child.

Amendment No. 27 is next in the group. Is that correct?

The amendment states, "In page 18, line 38, to delete “should” and substitute “may”. It is tabled in the name of Senator Cullinane and others.

I do not have a note on that matter. I am awaiting a note on that amendment. The Department's view is to accept this. The paragraph should be amended to include the legal advice. I want to ensure I have that absolutely correct.

We are on amendment No. 27.

I want to be certain I have the right amendment.

I can clarify it. The amendment refers to page 18, line 38 and would delete “should” and substitute “may”.

My notes refer to lines 36 and 37, but it is the same amendment.

That seems to be amendment No. 25.

I do not have a note on that matter. I might come back to amendment No. 27, if that is okay. Amendment No. 136 refers to page 39. Is that correct?

Amendment No. 136 states:

In page 39, to delete lines 7 and 8 and substitute the following:

“(b) the personal interview is conducted by a person who has the necessary knowledge and competency to take into account of the special needs of a minor including any child-specific protection needs, and”.

The idea is that section 34(3) already provides that interviews shall be conducted by persons who are sufficiently competent to take account of the personal or general circumstances surrounding the applicant's origin or vulnerability. We will not accept the amendment.

Amendment No. 138 is next. The idea is that section 35(c) provides that the report of the personal interview, together with the report under section 38 in respect of the child's application, is prepared by a person with the necessary knowledge of the special needs of minors.

Amendment No. 142 is-----

On a point of clarification, I do not see the difference between what the Minister of State just said and the amendment we tabled. I ask him to clarify the matter.

That is on amendment No. 138.

The amendment states, "In page 39, to delete lines 9 to 11 and substitute the following:".

The view is that the section provides that the report of the personal interview, together with the report under section 38 in respect of the child’s application, is prepared by a person with the necessary knowledge of the special needs of minors. It may be emphasis or it may be terminology, but the view is that the Bill, as is, is sufficient in that regard.

The next amendment is amendment No. 138.

We have dealt with amendment No. 138. We are on to amendments Nos. 141 to 143, inclusive, now. The one the Minister of State explained to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh was, in fact, amendment No. 138.

Amendment No. 142 is-----

The Minister of State should not forget amendment No. 141, which is also on the list. Amendment No. 141 states:

In page 39, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:

“(d) advice, is sought whenever necessary, from experts on child-related issues.”.

The view is that-----

It is between lines 11 and 12.

Amendments Nos. 141 to 143, inclusive, are to insert new texts at the end of the existing section 35 on page 39 of the Bill.

The view is that section 34(3) already provides that interviews shall be conducted by persons who are sufficiently competent to take account of the personal or general circumstances surrounding the applicant's application or applicant's origin or vulnerability. Section 35 provides that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

Does that include amendments Nos. 141 to 143, inclusive, or is that just for amendment No. 141?

I think that is amendments Nos. 141, 142-----

They are all related.

Yes. Amendment No. 142 affects line 12.

It is between lines 11 and 12.

I will not accept the amendment because section 35 already deals with these issues.

Amendment No. 142 is similar as it seeks to make an insertion between lines 11 and 12 again.

They are all in that group. Can we get back to amendment-----

I know we have gone through amendment by amendment, but I am not much clearer as to how the Department intends to deal with these minors. Perhaps the Minister of State might explain what he means by not accepting the amendments. The issue here is about unaccompanied minors coming in, the competency of people to interview them and having the proper training in place. I ask him to talk us through the procedure envisaged by the Department in that scenario in order that we are all clear as to how things will change under this new protection regime.

I wish to raise a point a number of us raised on Second Stage, namely, children's rights under the Bill and to ensure that the rights of children, particularly children who come into Ireland as unaccompanied minors, are adequately protected. I was very heartened to hear the Minister speak about this last night in her speech and in her response where she pointed out how much the practice has improved and how much better it is now.

As colleagues will recall, at one point unaccompanied minors were housed in hostels where they were extremely vulnerable to being trafficked or exploited. There were real concerns about child protection issues. As colleagues are aware and as the Minister reminded us last night, much better practice is now in place through ensuring unaccompanied minors are now accommodated in foster homes, which is very welcome.

I appreciate the sentiment behind the amendments. As the Minister of State said, all of us seek to ensure we have adequate humanitarian protections in place, particularly for children and child applicants. I am very encouraged by the explicit wording in section 35 which provides that the authorised officer, to be renamed the international protection officer after Committee Stage, shall take the best interests of the child as a primary consideration. By having those words right at the start of the section it is clear that all the other provisions of the section must be read in light of that consideration. That is the primary consideration and it is fairly clear that the Child and Family Agency will appoint a person who will then be given the opportunity to inform the child about the meaning and consequences of the interview and so on. A number of practical points are set out as to what will be done, but they all must be done in the light of the best interests of the child as the primary consideration. That covers a great deal of the child protection issues we are all very concerned about.

Is amendment No. 6 being pressed?

Could the Minister of State possibly respond to the question I asked?

As Senator Ivana Bacik has outlined, the entire thrust of the Bill is that the best interests of the child or unaccompanied minor is absolutely to the forefront of what we are trying to achieve. I understand the sentiments behind the amendments that were tabled and have no issue with them. However, we have confidence that the Bill is robust in that respect and will serve the best interests of the child or unaccompanied minor in all circumstances. While I appreciate that everybody across the House wants to ensure the Bill is absolutely robust, as has been stated by Senator Ivana Bacik and others, the Bill is framed in that context already. Therefore, individual amendments to underline that fact are not necessary. The Bill does that in its entire form.

I am glad the Minister of State has absolute confidence, because I do not, based on the way things are going so far. Concerns have been raised with us that the Bill makes no provisions for the training, qualification and skills of personnel engaged in the protection procedure. Although section 62 empowers the chairperson to convene a meeting to make provision for training programmes, there does not seem to be any equivalent provision relating to training requirements for personnel involved in the examination of international protection claims in the first instance.

Limited reference is made to the specific knowledge of authorised officers examining unaccompanied children, but no substantive provision is included in the Bill for the comprehensive qualifications and training of personnel involved in all aspects of the protection procedure. As we have mentioned previously it is essential that the authorised officers, the border officials, gardaí and other personnel who come into contact with persons seeking international protection have those necessary competencies, skills, knowledge, aptitude and training for their respective roles.

There is a concern that these amendments are necessary which is why we tabled them.

I do not want to labour the point, but section 35 should not be read in isolation. Clearly, it must be read in the context of the other relevant provisions. Section 34 applies to the personal interview and section 34(7) refers to an applicant who has not attained the age of 18. Section 14 refers to unaccompanied minors seeking international protection. In section 14(2) it is very important that after it appears that a person has not reached the age of 18 and is not accompanied by an adult who is taking responsibility for him or her, it shall be presumed that the person is a child, meaning that all the necessary protections are then put in place. Under section 15 it is clear that the Child and Family Agency will then assume responsibility.

While all of us absolutely agree with Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh's concern about the need to ensure adequate training and that the person appointed is an appropriate person, I believe that is provided for already because clearly a person could not be appointed by the Child and Family Agency who does not fulfil those criteria. I do not believe it is necessary to insert the extra detail for which the Senator is looking.

I do not question the Minister of State's bona fides in this area. I am aware of all the work he has done on migrants' rights issues since he became Minister of State with responsibility for equality. Senator Ivana Bacik has also a very proud record in this area. I have spoken to representatives of some of the migrants' rights bodies, including the one operating in Limerick, Doras Luimní. They are concerned that the Bill represents a missed opportunity to bring Ireland in line with a common European asylum system.

When the Minister of State says it is all in the best interests of the child, when it comes to matters of family reunification, the family model referred to according-----

That is not in the amendment.

It can still be relevant to this section and the interpretation. Are we not debating section 2?

It is unaccompanied minors.

We are dealing with a group including amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, 19, 20 and 26.

I do not disagree with the bona fides of the Minister of State that it is in the best interests of the child, but it is only in the best interests of the child if the child comes from a nuclear family.

According to the migrant body to which I spoke, not many refugee families fit that model. There may be family reunification issues that have the potential to split families up. That is not deliberate on the part of the Government but it needs to be looked at further.

I will explain the difficulty for me. We are discussing what is termed "the best interests of the child". I have tabled amendment No. 10 because that phrase does not apply throughout the Bill. It is limited to sections 52 to 56 of this legislation. It should permeate the Bill. That is the reason for my amendment No. 10, which I will discuss when we reach it. I concur with Senator Ivana Bacik that if the term "the best interests of the child" were to permeate the Bill, many of the issues that have been raised, and indeed my amendment, would be dealt with.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I have been following the difficulties that have been continuing with regard to groupings, etc. It is very unfair to the Minister of State and the Members who are present. Therefore, I propose the suspension of the sitting for approximately 20 minutes to allow us to sort things out in this regard.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 3.40 p.m. and resumed at 4.05 p.m.

The briefing paper from which I was working seems to have disappeared, which is disconcerting. It is difficult for me to proceed without the notes I had made.

We dealt with amendment No. 6 just before we adjourned.

As amendment No. 6 has been decided on, we will move on to amendment No. 7.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 10, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

" "separated child" means a child under the age of 18, who is outside his or her country of nationality or, if stateless, outside his or her country of habitual residence and who is separated from both parents, or from his or her previous legal or customary primary caregiver;".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 10, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

" "separated child" means a child under the age of 18, who is outside his or her country of nationality or, if a stateless person, outside his or her country of habitual residence and who is separated from both parents, or from his or her previous legal or customary caregiver;".

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 12; Níl, 20.

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Cahill, Máiría.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • Gilroy, John.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • Zappone, Katherine.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Aideen Hayden and Michael Mullins.
Amendment declared lost.

On a point of order-----

On a point of order-----

As there cannot be a point of order during a vote, I suggest we resume first and get the Minister of State in.

That is okay. When we resume I would like to raise a point of order.

I have declared the result. The question has been negatived.

Hold on. What is Senator Thomas Byrne's point of order? I will allow both Senators in briefly if they have a point of order.

Is é an pointe ordaithe atá agam ná go bhfuil gach rud trína chéile ag an Roinn anseo inniu. Everything is shambolic in this debate. The Department has had no Secretary General for several months if not a year. The manner in which this matter-----

That is not a point of order.

We have had to suspend the sitting for 20 minutes to try to get some order on proceedings.

That is not a point of order.

The legislation has been changed substantially in the past two weeks.

I remind the Senator that the House is in session.

It is very difficult for anyone, even the Minister of State, to keep up with what is going on. This debate must be suspended in order that we can have a proper debate about very vulnerable people.

That is not a point of order.

We should not rush something through in order that a political coup can be claimed.

That is not a point of order.

We are obliged to study and examine this legislation carefully, but that is not being done. As the Leas-Chathaoirleach will know, the Department does not know what it is doing at this stage and it is unfair to be putting legislation before us.

The Senator has made his point. I know there has been confusion so I have allowed him a bit of latitude, but he did not make a point of order. I call Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

On a point of order, with all due respect to the House, to the Minister of State and to all those involved in the debate, I call on the Leader to consider amending the Order of Business for the House. The debate is in complete disarray because of the mix-up with the groupings and the lack of continuity in the debate. I do not think that it is fair to the people who will be affected by the Bill and those trying to take part in the debate that we should continue. I call on the Leader to consider resuming this debate on Monday to give it more time and to give the time that we have lost back to us on Monday in order that we can debate the legislation properly, once we have got the proper groupings and the proper order.

I have no role in this matter. Does the Leader wish to respond briefly?

It is the intention, as per the motion passed this morning, that we would continue with this debate on Monday. I suggest we continue as we still have another 35 minutes to go in which we can deal with a number of amendments. We will have another three hours of debate on Monday.

We should proceed.

The Leader has ruled. I cannot adjudicate on the matter.

On a point of order, I ask the Leader for clarification. We have lost about an hour of the debate and there are a great number of amendments. Can the time lost be added to the amount of time allocated to debate the legislation on Monday? If that were agreed, we would not lose any time on this matter.

Again, it is not a matter for me to decide. Perhaps the Leader might comment. The Senator can raise the matter on Monday.

On a point of order, as there will no Order of Business on Monday, I cannot do so on that day.

The order has been made and I cannot change it.

The debate is a shambles.

The points made by the Senators have been noted and I understand because I had difficulties with the legislation myself when I was in the Chair. There are many amendments and the debate will not be concluded this evening. I suggest we move on to amendment No. 9.

With all due respect and on a point of order, it is unacceptable for us to have been given the wrong groupings to date. We have worked away on them and done our homework based on the groupings we were given. We have had a very confusing debate and it is unacceptable that the House has been treated in this manner.

I have ruled on the matter. What happened with the groupings of the amendments is regrettable. It confused me and I presume it confused the Minister of State. I have made my ruling and we should continue with the remaining 35 minutes of the debate.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 10, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:

“ “stateless person” means a person who is not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law;”.

A number of organisations with which we have had discussion on this area have raised concerns about the issue of statelessness. I note that the Irish Refugee Council, IRC, in particular has recommended that a definition of statelessness be included in the Bill. Under section 2, Ireland must, as a signatory to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, uphold its commitments in this regard. This would also require establishing a procedure to identify stateless applicants. The IRC supports the Immigrant Council of Ireland's recommendations with respect to statelessness which it made under the general scheme of the International Protection Bill. Guidance as to the content of a definition of statelessness could be taken from Article 1 of the 1954 UN Convention which states, "For the purpose of this Convention, the term 'stateless person' means a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law".

I would like the Minister of State to clarify the position of children who have been born in direct provision centres. Under a previous Government there was a change to the constitutional rights of certain children who were born to non-nationals here which rendered them stateless. Will the Minister of State also outline whether the matter will be addressed in the context of the Bill? We have discussed the rights of the child. We have a constitutional amendment which says that all children are to be treated equally, but Ireland does not treat children in an equal manner, particularly if we render them stateless which has ramifications on very practical issues such as children in direct provision being eligible for child benefit and so on. Statelessness is an important issue. Perhaps the Minister of State might elucidate for us where the Department stands on the issue and how the Bill will rectify some of thdse issues.

I raised the issue of statelessness previously and stressed that we must ensure adequate procedures are in place for the identification of stateless applicants as well as some means to clarify their status. It is a major issue on which many of the NGOs working in this area have been active. I know Migrants Rights Centre Ireland has done some work on the matter.

I agree in principle with Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh. As the IRC and the Immigrant Council of Ireland have said, there needs to be a procedure in place, perhaps underpinned by statute, to identify stateless applicants. I am not sure this Bill is the appropriate place to do so. As we have said and as the Minister of State said earlier, this Bill specifically addresses one aspect of the much larger immigration law reform that is required. It was, as we know, at an advanced stage of preparation by the previous Government and then ultimately fell because there was such complexity surrounding some of the issues. The Bill very much deals with one aspect which, as we have said, is the need to establish a single and unified procedure for assessing protection applications. In particular, the Bill will deal with delay. We have all spoken about the fact that so many people have languished for so long in the system of direct provision.

The issue of statelessness is one on which we need a longer and considered debate. We need to see some procedure put in place to identify stateless applicants and to regularise their status.

I am minded that many of these amendments are focused on the status of children. I am not in a position to accept the amendment because the Bill reflects the EU directive where a stateless person is not defined. However, I concur with many of the sentiments that Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has outlined. The entire composition of the working group that was established to investigate and report back on conditions and the entire nature of direct provision has the rights of children and child welfare at its very heart. In fact, the composition of NGOs and individuals who took part in the working group was central. I will comment on one of the issues that has been outlined by the Senator already, when he spoke about welfare payments that are made to children in direct provision. It is my understanding that the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice and Equality are making arrangements to work proactively, in a very short space of time, to ensure the recommendations made in the working group's report on those payments are followed through in very short order. I can appreciate where he is coming from. The idea that a child in the protection system would live in a direct provision centre for years on end is not something we can stand over, and that is the point of this Bill, although there has been criticism of it today.

The point is that this issue has been kicked around in these Houses for 12 years or more. A section of the wider Bill has been removed in order to deal with the protection issue.

Senators should be aware that the number of new asylum applications in Ireland is rising again. Applications which numbered in the hundreds in recent years are now in the thousands as a result of the biggest movement of people since the Second World War. The Bill is seeking to change, reform and fix a broken system. The aim is to ensure anyone who seeks protection in this country is dealt with in a speedy and humane fashion. That is the intention of the Bill and children are at the heart of that intention. I concur with the Senator on one point in the context of the referendum that was held in 2004. My party and the Senator's party stood in opposition to that move at the time but the provision is enshrined in the Constitution now and that is the reality of the situation. At that time, the Senator may recall, some of the sentiments expressed were shocking. I remember an Irish-African family were reportedly booed in a polling station when they went to cast their vote. Some of what was said during that referendum campaign, at the height of the boom, was remarkable. It was an unfortunate move on the part of the then Government but in terms of asylum and immigration policy and a collective will to reform this area, no political party in these Houses is standing on an anti-immigration, far-right platform. It is to the credit of this democracy that we do not have the types of debates that are happening in other parts of Europe. We should try to hold onto that and build on it because we cannot be complacent in that regard. These are my comments on the amendment but my commitment to the Senator, in terms of the payments, is that there will be clarity on that matter from the Department of Social Protection very soon.

I welcome that clarification because senior officials from the Department of Social Protection attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions about two weeks ago and they had not been given the go-ahead from the Department of Justice and Equality on those payments at that stage. That would be welcome and it is high time it happened.

I concur with the Minister of State's view on the referendum which took away citizenship from children who were not born here. That was a retrograde step. However, I must put it to the Minister of State that he is in the ministerial chair now. I take on board comments made by Senator Bacik that only certain matters can be dealt with in this legislation. While we all welcome the single protection procedure, we have been waiting for this legislation for 12 years. When is the statelessness issue going to be dealt with and how? Where is the legislation that will address it? Why not put it into this legislation to clear it up once and for all? It is both the place and the time to do it. Where do those children who are now living in direct provision accommodation, some of whom were born in that system but who do not belong to a state, stand under this legislation? What is being done, in the spirit of the work done by the working group, to give children in direct provision a sense of belonging to a country? What is being done to allow them to express their Irishness and to feel as Irish as any other child? How is that going to be dealt with? Surely the statelessness issue is one that must be dealt with in this Bill, as has been outlined by the organisations I mentioned.

Again, I concur with the sentiments expressed by Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and understand the motivation behind his amendment. However, the technical reality is that children in direct provision are currently in a legal lacuna, as no application for protection can be made on their behalf, but section 15(3) of the Bill addresses that issue.

People who are currently living in direct provision accommodation and those who are coming to Ireland under the new regime that this Bill envisages will be left in a similar limbo of statelessness unless we press the amendment. They will be very disappointed if they are listening to this debate that nothing has been done on this issue. They are calling on us to try to push this type of amendment in order to rectify the situation. It is retrograde that the Government is not seeing fit to take this on board now. I am told by people who are living in direct provision accommodation that they have seen many reports and working groups and have heard many statements, but they are not seeing much change. They do not trust the Department of Justice and Equality to deliver on promises that are made in these Houses. Unless a provision is included in legislation, it never comes to pass. They have no faith in the Department and believe that unless something is inserted into legislation, it will not happen. With all due respect to the Minister of State, all of the good will in the world will not make it happen. Ministers will come and go, but the reality is that after 12 or 13 years of the direct provision system, there have been many promises but no change. This is yet another empty promise.

I reject that assertion because I have visited approximately 14 direct provision centres and statistics show that since the publication of the working group report, its recommendations are being implemented. The number of asylum applications that have been processed and leave to remain permissions granted has grown by around 60% in that period of time. The recommendations of the report are being implemented. There have been approximately 80 deportation orders revoked since July. The direct provision working group report is being implemented.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh asked for an outline of the number of recommendations being built on within the Bill and I can go through them now if the Senator wishes, although I know we do not have much time left and must deal with many amendments. My commitment to the Senator and this House is that the scandal of direct provision, in terms of the length of time people are living in those centres, will be addressed. The report of the direct provision working group is the only game in town. It is the only document that we are working off. That is the report and it is being implemented.

If the Senator visits the direct provision centres, he will meet families who are getting their papers and who have seen a change in the speed with which the Department operates. An additional €6 million was allocated in the budget to facilitate the recruitment of extra staff to carry out these duties and the statistics show that what we sought to achieve is being achieved. Those who have been more than five years in the direct provision system are having their applications worked on and processed faster. I am glad to see that the rates for people being granted leave to remain have greatly increased and deportation orders have been rescinded in the numbers that I have already outlined. People in direct provision centres know it is happening and I am glad to be part of the process. I am also glad that these Houses have stood up to the plate collectively, as a political entity, to make it happen and it is happening.

I welcome what the Minister of State has just said and I equally welcome the statement he made on 23 July 2014, when he said the direct provision system needed radical reform. I also agree with the statement he made in the Dáil when he described the system as inhumane and intolerable and said it was a system he refused to stand over in its current form. It certainly needs to be changed, reformed or scrapped - whatever term one wants to use but-----

They are very different things.

We can debate that point but-----

Changed and scrapped are two very different things.

I would be grateful if the Minister of State could supply the aforementioned list of the recommendations of the working group which are included in this legislation. That would be very useful for us, particularly prior to our deliberations on the Bill on Monday next.

My concern is that the legislation does very little to change the direct provision system as is. The Minister of State argued in his opening statement that the biggest issue is the length of time people are in the direct provision system, but I do not agree. The system itself is also a big problem. It is a privatised system of accommodation provision where families, sometimes four or five people, share a single room; where individuals who are strangers to each other are forced to share rooms; where children cannot be let out into public spaces such as corridors in hotels because of child protection issues; and where children cannot invite their friends from school over for parties and so forth. These are institutional issues and I know the Minister of State has raised them in the past. The system of direct provision itself is broken and that is why this Bill should provide for changes to that system. The Minister of State has talked the talk on reform and change but that should be in the Bill. This legislation deals with the protection element of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, but I have no faith that further legislation will be coming down the line any time soon.

As such, I am very concerned for all those people who have been waiting for ten, 11 or 12 years to have their cases decided. Good luck to those who have been granted subsidiary protection, leave to remain or refugee status. However, there are many others stuck in a system that is causing harm while they are in it. This is not just about the length of time people are waiting but the system itself. We know abuses have happened in various direct provision centres. Now is the time - before the Government leaves office - to address these matters. If we do not do it now, I am afraid it never will be done.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 10; Níl, 19.

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Cahill, Máiría.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • Gilroy, John.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • Zappone, Katherine.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Aideen Hayden and Michael Mullins.
Amendment declared lost.
Question put: "That section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 7.

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Cahill, Máiría.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Daly, Mark.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Aideen Hayden and Michael Mullins; Níl, Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Diarmuid Wilson.
Question declared lost.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.