Following a strong north-south Irish delegation attending Sanctuary in Parliament, Dublin City of Sanctuary is preparing the way for a Sanctuary in Politics project during 2016. On Monday, December 7, a small delegation of individuals from City of Sanctuary and the Irish Refugee Council attended the final Committee Stage hearing on the International Protection Bill 2015 in the Seanad. This hearing was the last opportunity for the much maligned bill to be scraped before a 7p.m. guillotine was lowered.
In a near empty Seanad dissenting voices regarding the bill were few and far between, with Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Independent David Norris those most pronounced in their disfavour for the bill. Senator Norris stated that the bill was “the worst we have ever seen” in terms of deficient legislation being steamrolled through the Houses of the Oireachtas. Senator Jillian van Turnhout, a children’s rights activist, said that the bill was yet another example of children in the asylum process being left out in the cold.
Senator Ivana Bacik was congratulatory in her assessment of the bill, praising Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin for the fine work carried out by the Department of Justice. Both Senator Bacik and Deputy Ó Ríordáin were careful in reiterating the position that this bill represented a stepping stone for Irish asylum law, and that the new single procedure mechanism would consign long waits in Direct Provision centres to the past.
At 7p.m. the bill was passed by a ‘walk through’ vote, with eighteen senators voting in favour of passing the bill and only eleven against. The vote means that the bill has now passed through four stages of hearings in just one week.