Adults in direct provision ‘to be allowed to work’

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Adults in direct provision will soon have access to the labour market, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said.

He said residents had been given access to the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children, which was a very important step forward.

The Minister, who was speaking in the Seanad on Wednesday, said there had been a great deal of criticism of direct provision over the years.

While much of it was warranted, some of the criticism was not, he added.

“All states have to set and implement rules about people coming to the state,’’ he added. “Asylum seekers must apply for international protection status under international law on defined grounds.’’

Mr Flanagan said the system was a guarantee that every person who walked into the international protection office would have a bed, food, a shower, medical care, information and access to a wide range of services.

“I have yet to hear a credible alternative being proposed in almost two decades to the current system,’’ he added.

“All that being said, I recognise that the way this system operated for many years was wholly unsatisfactory.’’

He said the system was beset by problems as the State sought to grapple with a large volume of asylum applications, something Ireland was not used to.

Last May, a Burmese man who spent eight years in direct provision before getting refugee status unanimously won his Supreme Court appeal over laws preventing him working here before his status was decided.

The seven judge court unanimously agreed the absolute ban was “in principle” unconstitutional but has adjourned making any formal orders for six months to allow the legislature consider how to address the situation.


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Gardaí probe suspected jihadi in west of Ireland

Gardai are investigating a suspected Islamic State terror cell based in the west of Ireland.

The “organised terror cell” is headed by two Chechen brothers who have been living in Ireland for a number of years.

Senior sources have revealed that gardai have been monitoring the activities of the eight-man cell for a number of months.

The suspected Islamic extremists, who live in various rural locations, are being investigated for using An Post and courier services for ‘dummy runs’ to send items to the war-torn Middle East.

The jihadi group is also suspected of being involved in fundraising and electronically transferring funds from Ireland to extremist Islamic organisations.

“The belief is that members of this network are deeply committed to the Islamic State and they are organised,” a source said.

“It has been established that they have attempted to send small internal parts of computers to locations such as Chechnya, Iraq and Syria.

“It is believed that they have been doing this as ‘dummy runs’ for perhaps attempting to send something more sinister such as bomb components out of the country.”

The group is being monitored by detectives based in Galway but the Special Detective Unit’s Counter-Terrorism International (CTI) Unit is also aware of the suspected terror cell’s activities and it is understood that international authorities are as well.

While the group’s members, including the two brothers who are suspected of leading it, have been questioned by gardai in the past, they have not yet been arrested for any terrorist offences.

“Of course there is major concern about this radicalised extremist group and that is why they are being closely monitored,” the source added.

It is understood that there are around eight men linked to the suspected cell, all of whom live in the west. Their photographs have been circulated among gardai in the surrounding areas in order to keep tabs on them.

Gardai remain deeply concerned that an Islamic terror attack could happen here and are constantly preparing for such an eventuality, but the threat level still officially remains moderate.

This means that an attack is possible but not likely.

Last month, it emerged that a ‘shoot first’ policy against jihadi-style terrorists would be adopted by gardai under a new anti-terror plan.

The new rules, which have been circulated to all senior officers in Dublin, will reverse the force’s previously cautious approach to using firearms, even in terrorist situations.

Instead, officers will be encouraged to shoot suspects dead if, for example, they believe a jihadi attack is unfolding.


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ISIS terrorists planned Dublin attack

London Bridge attackers Youssef Zaghba, Rachid Redouane and Khuram Shazad Butt (Met Police/PA)

The Sunday Independent can reveal for the first time today that it could have been Dublin, not London, that was hit by an Islamic terror attack.

Khuram Shazad Butt and Rachid Redouane, who together with a third accomplice, were shot dead by police during the London Bridge attack carried out reconnaissance two years ago on a number of high-profile locations in Dublin that they had identified as potential targets.

Butt (27) and 31-year-old Redouane, who was married to an Irish woman and lived in Dublin for a number of years, actively discussed carrying out at an attack in the capital according to reliable sources, including an Irish woman who became radicalised after converting to Islam.

At that time the two jihadists were under the strong influence of a 33-year-old Pakistani-born UK citizen named ‘Raza’ who operated an internet fraud scheme targeting Irish companies from an address in Santry, north Dublin.

The scam was designed to raise hard cash to fund logistical support for jihadists in the form of transport and false documentation including passports through a network of Irish-based Isis sympathisers.

The Sunday Independent understands that the Garda’s Counter Terrorism International (CTI) unit has now established that Butt and Redouane stayed at the Santry address with ‘Raza’ on several occasions up to two years ago.

The Pakistani-born UK citizen is still on MI5 and Scotland Yard’s most-wanted list of suspects thought to have orchestrated the London Bridge atrocity carried out by Butt, Redouane and 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba.

The shadowy figure is suspected of radicalising young Muslims for Isis and orchestrating similar internet rackets – known as invoice redirection fraud – in the UK.

The Sunday Independent can reveal that ‘Raza’ is also wanted by gardai in connection with a €2.8m internet fraud from an Irish company last year.

The suspected terror chief registered a company at an address in an industrial park in Santry which was then used to set up a bank account through which the money was to be transferred to other hidden accounts in the UK.


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ISIS members use student ‘mules’ at Irish colleges to finance operations

Islamist extremists are using unsuspecting students in Irish third level colleges to transfer the proceeds of internet fraud to finance Islamic State terrorist operations.

The unwitting, mostly foreign, students are duped into opening personal accounts in Irish banks by secret IS sympathisers who are members of a back-up network providing logistical support in the form of cash and false travel documents to terrorists in Britain and Europe.

Known in the security world as “mules” the oblivious participants are given money to open the accounts in return for the PIN codes, ATM cards and online banking details.

Money obtained from Irish companies through internet fraud – which is known as invoice redirection fraud – is then electronically transferred to these accounts.

From there, the cash is again transferred in small amounts to bank accounts outside the jurisdiction to avoid raising suspicions.

The Herald reports that at least half a dozen such accounts held in the names of unsuspecting students were set up to transfer the proceeds of a €2.8m internet fraud from an Irish company in September 2016.

While similar methods are used by internet fraud gangs around the world, this is the first time that such a major IS-inspired laundering conspiracy has been detected in Ireland.

A Sunday Independent investigation revealed how two of the Islamist extremists responsible for the London Bridge terror attack on June 3, which claimed eight lives and injured 41 people, had considered the prospect of carrying out a similar atrocity in Dublin two years ago.

Khuram Shazad Butt (27) and Rachid Redouane (31), who with a third accomplice were shot dead by UK police following the attack, had reconnoitred a number of high-profile locations in Dublin they identified as potential targets.

However, Butt and Redouane, who was married to an Irishwoman and lived in Dublin for a number of years, were told by their terrorist mentor, named ‘Raza’, that such an attack would be counter-productive because Ireland was better suited as a logistics and fundraising base.

The 33-year-old Pakistani-born UK citizen operated an internet fraud racket targeting Irish companies from an address in Santry, north Dublin.

Our investigation revealed that Raza is wanted by gardai in connection with the €2.8m fraud last September.

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Census shows 535,475 foreign nationals from 200 countries are living in Ireland

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The number of people in Ireland who hold dual Irish nationality has increased by nearly 90 per cent over the last five years, with people from the US, the UK and Poland most likely to identify as dual Irish nationals, according to the latest data from the census.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) Migration and Diversity report shows that 535,475 foreign nationals from 200 different countries were living in the State in April 2016, marking a drop of 1.6 per cent on the 2011 figure.

The number of people with dual-Irish nationality increased by 87.4 per cent to 104,784 over the period with 17,552 Irish-Americans, 15,428 Irish-UK nationals and 9,273 Irish-Polish.

Nearly two-thirds of dual nationals, or 66,440 people, were born abroad.

Polish nationals made up the largest group of foreign nationals living in Ireland last year, with 122,515 Poles scattered across the State.

The second biggest group were UK nationals (103,113) followed by 36,552 Lithuanians.

The United States, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK all had more than 10,000 residents in Ireland, accounting for 73.6 per cent of the total foreign national population.

Ballyhaunis in Co Mayo was the town with the highest number of foreign nationals with nearly 40 per cent of its population consisting of non-Irish.

Two Longford towns followed, with 32.3 per cent of the population in Edgeworthstown and 32.1 per cent in Ballymahon made up of foreign nationals.

The 2016 census shows Ireland is becoming an increasingly multi-lingual country with 612,018 residents speaking a language other than Irish or English at home, marking a rise of nearly 100,000 people since 2011.

Of these, 363,715 were foreign nationals and the top languages spoken were Polish (113,225), Lithuanian (30,502) Romanian (26,645) and Portuguese (16,737).

The foreign nationals living in Ireland are also younger than the Irish population, with nearly half of all non-Irish aged between 25 and 42.

Some 15.4 per cent of the foreign nationals were unemployed in 2016, compared to 12.6 per cent among Irish.

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Plans submitted for large mosque centre in Blanchardstown

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A Muslim community group has sought planning permission to build what would be one of the largest mosques in Ireland on a site at Blanchardstown in west Dublin.

Dr Taufiq al-Sattar of the Shuhada Foundation of Ireland is behind the development on the Blanchardstown Road North Corduff, which is expected to cost tens of millions of euro.

The Dublin-based neurosurgeon pledged to build the mosque in memory of his late wife Shehnila Taufiq who died along with their daughter Zainab (19), and sons Bilal (17) and Jamal (15) in an arson attack in Leicester, England, in September 2013.

The planning application, lodged with Fingal County Council, seeks permission to build a three-storey mosque, a large community centre, and a private primary school on the site of Warrenstown House, a former HSE facility.

“My late wife’s vision, was not only to have a mosque, but to have a community centre as well, for all the community,” Dr al-Sattar said.

The centre will include a halal food store and restaurant, a sports hall and a five-a-side football pitch which he hopes can bring young people from different faiths, and none, together.

“We will also hold inter-faith dialogues in the centre, to bring different communities and faiths together, this is what we all need in the current world and climate,” he said.

Earlier plans for the development were deemed “very ambitious” by Fingal County Council, and the local authority sought that the scale of the plans be reduced.

Plans to build a secondary school on the site was left out of the redesigned proposal submitted to the council last month. The local authority also requested the mosque be given “greater prominence” in the redesigned plans, according to planning documentation.

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Why Ireland should seriously consider leaving the EU

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We need to talk about Irexit. Seriously. If you put your head around the door of any of the innumerable meeting rooms in which all things Brexit are being dissected, the one word that dares not speak its name is Irexit. The foolhardiness of the Brits? Yes. How badly organised and divided they are? Of course. How unrealistic their expectations are? Certainly.

With a few distinguished exceptions, “official” Ireland has bought into the “spin”’. It has made the European Union the custodian of our national interests. It has ceded its responsibility for negotiations on our future relationship with our nearest neighbour and largest single-country trading partner. This makes no sense. The risks of trading the approval of “Europe” for the long-term interests of the country are enormous.

Behind the charade of a “unified stance” on Brexit is a deeply divided EU with competing national agendas which have been whipped into a facile unanimity. The pressure not to break ranks is huge. In his acclaimed book Adults in the Room: My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment, former Greek minister for finance Yanis Varoufakis documents the devastating reality of such pressures.

Because what the UK is exiting is not Europe, but what Europe has become. Tragically, it is not the Europe of Schumann and Monnet or even Jacques Delors.

It is a hegemonistic and increasingly militarised political behemoth, controlled by Germany and, to a lesser extent, by a Franco-German identity of interests. Europe is bound together by an oppressive dependency on the centre. Political scientists know that even the largest of other countries play in the reserves.

Europe’s identity and its founding values have been scarred by the macroeconomics of austerity and an unprecedented migration catastrophe caused, in part, by its support for military adventurism in the Middle East and North Africa.

At its heart is a flawed monetary union, skewed towards surplus countries and a yawning “democratic deficit”. Brexit should have been the catalyst for reform. Instead, freed for the moment of the threat of “populism” generated by its own policies, the establishment has pulled down the shutters on reform. It is now impelling members towards full political union and, beyond that, further supra-national enlargement.

Brexit means Ireland, which shares a common stance on key issues with the UK, is left marginalised, peripheral and dependant. That reality bears reflecting upon.

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