President Michael D Higgins has convened a meeting of the Council of State at Áras an Uachtaráin, in order to consider legislation passed by the Oireachtas aimed at streamlining the application process for asylum seekers.
After consulting with the council, the president must decide by tomorrow whether to sign the International Protection Bill into law or, if he believes it is “repugnant” to the Constitution, refer it to the Supreme Court.
The Council of State advises the president and is made up of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the High Court and the Attorney General.
All surviving former taoisigh, presidents and chief justices are also members, along with seven of the president’s own nominees.
It is only the second time that the president has convened such a meeting, under Article 26 of the Constitution; the previous occasion was the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Publishing the International Protection Bill, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the overhauling of the asylum application system would enable officers to efficiently grant protection to those who are entitled to it while also identifying, at a much earlier stage, people who have no entitlement to stay in the State.