Irish Refugee Council condemns Leo Varadkar's remarks about Georgians and Albanians 1 year ago

Irish Refugee Council condemns Leo Varadkar's remarks about Georgians and Albanians

Leo Varadkar has been criticised for comments made this weekend with regard to asylum seekers.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, the Taoiseach zeroed in on migrants from two specific countries, singling them out as a "big driver" of an increase in asylum seekers.

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By way of explaining the increase, Varadkar said:

"There are, however, a lot of people from Georgia and Albania coming in with fake documents and that is the big driver of the increase.

"There are lots of ways to enter Ireland legally with a visa or work permit so we cannot tolerate illegal entry."

Speaking to JOE, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council Nick Henderson cautioned against Varadkar's rhetoric.

"We must not vilify or dismiss people simply because of their nationality and each person must have their case heard in an individual and fair manner and without prejudice," said Henderson.

"Human rights organisations, for example Amnesty International, report ongoing issues for both countries, including impunity, lack of police protection and discrimination against LGBTI people.

"In relation to the comments around illegal entry, the Refugee Convention says penalties shall not be imposed on people who have to use illegal entry to claim asylum.

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"There is no visa to claim asylum and people have to cross borders, often illegally and using false documents to get to a place of safety."

Henderson further noted that the Taoiseach was correct to say "fewer people are claiming asylum now than in the past and that Ireland takes a tiny proportion of the number of people seeking asylum in Europe."

The remarks come at a time when communities in Ireland are protesting against the housing of asylum seekers.