Netanyahu criticises Ireland’s stance on Israel-Palestinian conflict

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has posted a message to Facebook expressing criticism of Ireland’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The message, posted after a meeting between Netanyahu and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, stands in stark contrast to a more diplomatic tweet from the Irish minister.

Coveney arrived in Israel today to begin a three-day visit to the Middle East – his first visit to the region since his appointment last month as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

He’s visiting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank city of Ramallah as part of the trip.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met this afternoon in Jerusalem with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney,” the post from Netanyahu’s official account said.

The meeting dealt mainly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his dissatisfaction over Ireland’s traditional stance and told the Foreign Minister that his country does not condemn Palestinians for incitement and for glorifying those who commit terrorist attacks.

“The Prime Minister also asked him why Ireland helps NGOs that call for the destruction of Israel and noted that many European countries are overlooking the core problem of the conflict – the Palestinian refusal to recognize the state of the Jews.”

Coveney is also set to visit the Yad Vashem memorial today, where he will pay his respects to the victims of the Holocaust.

He is also due to meet with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Meetings with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Riad Malki, are scheduled for Thursday.

He’ll also meet with UN officials and Irish and Israeli NGOs who receive Irish aid funding.


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Ireland struggling to provide services for refugees

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The Government is experiencing an “inability” to find accommodation to house people caught up in the mass migration crisis and providing them with the necessary services is emerging as a “very significant issue”.

The Department of Justice’s Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) is also having problems finding further facilities here to accommodate asylum seekers from Greece who are fleeing strife in the Middle East and beyond.

In a briefing document to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, the department said that 459 asylum seekers had arrived from Greece. Some 183 of these are children, comprising 70 aged 0-4, 82 aged 5-12, and 31 aged 13-17.

It said 38 had been housed in the community using both local authority housing and accommodation pledged to the Red Cross.

It said about 100 more were due to be housed over the next two months and a further 160 in the third quarter of this year.

Officials said 344 asylum seekers have been interviewed for relocation and 264 of those have been cleared for entry to Ireland.

“It is envisaged that Ireland will have met its commitment for 1,040 by September 2017,” it said.

But the department added: “The challenge for the IRPP is scaling up the programme sufficiently to deal with the unprecedented numbers arriving and to put in place plans to disperse arrivals in multiple counties.”

Two full pages in the briefing document are redacted, but it does publish what it says are the three “main issues” arising:

  • Difficulties in procuring further emergency reception and orientation centres (EROCs) in which to accommodate arrivals, which in turn slows the rate at which asylum seekers can be brought from Greece to Ireland.
  • Inability to find suitable accommodation in communities in a reasonable timeframe for those who are ready to move out of EROCs and into the community.
  • Difficulties with service provision to our arrivals whether in EROCs or in the community. This is emerging as a very significant issue.

Elsewhere in the 149-page briefing document, officials say that 4,000 people were refused leave to land at ports of entry last year.

The report said officials were “urgently examining” the impact of a Supreme Court judgement last May on the right of asylum seekers to work.

It said there were high-profile judicial reviews ongoing with “potentially significant impact” on the department, including a review seeking to prevent the enforcement of deportation orders and claims for damages in relation to delays in processing cases.

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Uncommon for illegal workers to be prosecuted

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A new report on illegal employment in Ireland has found that illegal non-EU workers are common in child and elderly care and the catering industry.

The ESRI published new research today examining the illegal employment of non-EU nationals in Ireland.

The report identified a range of negative outcomes from illegal employment including risks to fundamental worker’s rights, poor working conditions and non-payment of taxes.

Non-EU students, legally resident migrants and undocumented migrants were the main groups found to be working illegally. The report noted that many of the undocumented migrants entered the country legally and overstayed.

Non-EU nationals are not allowed to work in Ireland without an employment permit, unless their residence permit states otherwise. Non-EU students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and 40 hours a week during holidays without the having to hold an employment permit.

It was found that work outside of these hours is still prevalent among the international student population despite efforts to eliminate the practice.

The new research draws on a study from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MCRI) which found that almost all undocumented migrants surveyed were in employment, frequently in child and elderly care positions.

These workers can be vulnerable to exploitation as labour inspectors cannot visit private homes unannounced, severely restricting their ability to regulate this sector.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found illegal employment to be most prevalent in the catering sector, including in fast food and takeaway restaurants.

The study also found that prosecutions under the Immigration Act for illegal employment are uncommon.

The WRC has the power to prosecute both employers and employees under employment law, but the focus is usually on the employer, who is given an opportunity to rectify the matter.

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Ireland should seriously consider Irexit, says UK think tank

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Ireland should give “serious consideration” to following Britain out of the EU, a right-leaning UK think tank said.

The State could opt to remain with the UK in a customs and free trade area, while negotiating as favourable as possible trade and investment terms with the remaining 26 member states, Policy Exchange added.

Former taoiseach Enda Kenny firmly rejected any suggestion that Ireland should leave the EU, saying the foundation of Ireland’s prosperity and the bedrock of its modern society was membership of the European Union.

But this report by the influential British research organisation said: “In the circumstances, Ireland must give serious consideration to other options, including Irexit.”

The document was drawn up by Ray Bassett, a former Irish diplomat and commentator.

It said Ireland faced a huge choice.

“The question to be raised is what price is Ireland willing to pay to stand in solidarity with the remaining 26 EU countries?

“If the Irish Government is willing to pay that price, will the Dáil, and possibly the population in a referendum, be equally willing to do so?”

The report said:

– Access to the Single Market need not be synonymous with full EU membership.

– The EU is facing “huge problems” and its future direction is unlikely to be in Ireland’s interests.

– The DUP’s central role in Brexit negotiations as part of its relationship with the Tories should facilitate strong cooperation across Ireland.

It said: “Simply sitting on the sidelines and allowing the EU to negotiate for Ireland is essentially untenable.

“The first duty of the EU negotiators is to act on behalf of the European Union as an institution.

“This is prioritised in their guidelines, approved by the European Council.

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Security fears over return of foreign fighters from Syria

The military onslaught against so-called Islamic State in Syria is likely to result in increasing numbers of foreign fighters returning to their home countries, according to the Government’s draft risk report.

More than 30 Irish citizens are known to have travelled to war zones in the Middle East and Libya. Some five are thought to have died, including one fighting for IS.

The Draft National Risk Assessment 2017 said that the experience of other European countries showed that the terrorist threat level can “escalate rapidly”.

The report also warns of a “significant risk of negative consequences” if Irish society failed to maintain cohesion as second and third generation migrant communities emerge.

The document said that given Ireland was home for a large number of international data centres meant that a serious cyber-attack could have a particularly damaging impact.

And the report said there was a myriad of security concerns relating to Brexit, with the future of the European Arrest Warrant of “greatest concern”.

The report said the weakening of IS in Syria was “likely to see an increase” in the numbers of foreign terrorist fighters returning to their home countries who “may pose a terrorist threat”.

It said the recent “low-tech or lone actor” attacks in London and Manchester were “particularly difficult for the authorities to detect and disrupt”.

The report said exploring new modi operandi was considered a hallmark of IS and that those currently used in Syria could be exported to Europe, with future attacks “possibly involving car bombs, extortion and kidnapping”.

It said the challenging nature of the threat highlighted the need for continued co-operation among partner states.

It said that the experience in other European countries showed that levels of threat from terrorism “can escalate rapidly” and the source and intensity of that threat could differ.

Ireland’s terror threat is currently rated at moderate, meaning an attack is possible but not likely. It is the second of five stages.

The report added: “It is important to consider the possibility of terrorist groups resorting to cyber measures to advance their aims by, for example, launching an attack on and disrupting critical information infrastructure and networks.”

The report said there had been a 139% increase since 2012 in the number of foreign nationals in Ireland and that they now comprise 17% of the population.

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Judge gives “one last chance” to immigrant criminal with 34 previous convictions.

Munir Ghariani (26) formerly of Granitefield, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin leaves the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today. Pic Collins Courts.

A judge has agreed to give one last chance to a convicted sex offender who poses a risk to public safety.

Munir Ghariani (26) received a suspended jail term last May after he admitted attacking a woman on a street “for the thrill”. At the time, Judge Melanie Greally warned Ghariani that she would have “no hesitation” in reactivating the three-year sentence if he broke any of the conditions for his release.

Today the Probation Service brought the case back before Judge Greally because of his failure to meet with Probation Officers.

His probation officer Michelle Richardson said she had not seen him in person since his sentencing. She said that a man posing such a risk to public safety as Ghariani needs to present himself regularly to the Probation Service.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Ghariani is also charged with breaches of the Sex Offenders Act because of alleged failures to notify authorities of his address.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, said that his client had a background of difficulties but had been taking his anti-psychotic medication.

Judge Greally agreed to put the matter back for two weeks. She said if Ghariani did not turn up for two weekly meetings in that time he would be jailed.

Ghariani, formerly of Granitefield, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of the woman, a Chinese national, on Granville Road, Cabinteely on March 21, 2016.

The victim was on her way home from a lecture in UCD when she noticed Ghariani following close behind her. He repeatedly asked to use her phone as he walked behind her.

The woman refused and he asked why. Ghariani then pushed her to the ground and tried to grab the phone. During the struggle he bit her finger in an attempt to get her to release the phone.

The woman screamed for help as Ghariani attempted to flee but a passer-by tackled and held him until gardaí arrived.

Ghariani has 34 previous convictions including one for sexual assault after he groped a woman from behind as she was taking money out of an ATM. He was registered as a sex offender for that offence.

His other convictions include indecency, burglary and theft. The court heard he was on bail for a similar offence at the time of this robbery.

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Ireland is becoming more reliant on foreign-trained medical staff

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Africa and Pakistan contribute the highest number of non-Irish doctors here.

Ireland’s increasing need for doctors is mainly being met by employing foreign-trained doctors, according to a new report from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

Research carried out by the RCSI’s Health Workforce Research Group found that approximately 700 Irish doctors graduate from the six medical schools in Ireland each year. However, the percentage of Irish doctors on the Medical Council register continues to fall.

While the number of new entrants to the register doubled between 2012 and 2015, the numbers of graduates from outside Ireland who joined the register accounted for two-thirds of all new registrants in 2015.

Africa contributes the highest number of doctors in this regard, with 28%, and Pakistan supplies more than 20% of Ireland’s foreign-trained doctors.

The report states that the systemic drivers of this trend include:

  • High rates of emigration among graduates of Irish medical schools, attracted by better working conditions, training and career opportunities in other English-speaking countries
  • The need to be compliant with the European Working Time Directive, which restricts hospital doctors’ working week
  • Increasing demand

The RCSI said an important new pattern is “the growth in the numbers of doctors trained in other European Union (EU) countries, which now represent 20% of foreign trained doctors”.

Graduates of medical schools in Romania, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic included not only nationals from these countries, but many non-EU nationals and a significant number of Irish nationals.

The analysis, which summarises Medical Council registration trends, alongside data from the HSE’s National Doctor Training and Planning unit, also profiles the nationalities and countries of training of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) working in Irish hospitals. While the numbers of NCHDs increased between 2011 and 2015, most of these were recruited to non-training posts.

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