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10 April 2003 Edition

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Sinn Féin Dáil spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, has renewed the party's call for a positive immigration policy.

Speaking on the Employment Permits Bill in the Dáil last week, the Sinn Féin TD called for measures including the introduction of positive immigration criteria, work permits to be issued directly to employees, the extension of the right to work to asylum seekers, and the creation of an Immigration and Citizenship Agency separate from the Gardaí.

"This is an exciting time for our nation," he said. "Ireland is diversifying. After more than a century and a half of net emigration and the creation of vast Irish diasporas and all that has entailed for us as a nation, not only is the emigration trend finally reversing itself, but people from other parts of the world now increasingly find Ireland to be an attractive destination - a place to seek opportunity and build a new life in much the same way Irish people in their millions have looked to other shores since the 19th century. This is a positive development, something to be welcomed, not feared. The diversification of Irish society is an indicator of our maturation, and how we handle the demographic shift will be no less an indicator."

"For this reason, Sinn Féin has called on this government to institute a positive immigration policy - one that recognises and reflects the many benefits of immigration, one that seeks to welcome and embrace immigration, not respond as though it is somehow a threat, or seek to exclude, as does the present policy."

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