By Ann Marie Foley - 02 March, 2015
Immigration reform, ending racism and combating human trafficking will be priorities during the next general election campaign according to Brian Killoran, the new Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
He will be seeking assurances from all parties and independent candidates that they address the concerns of migrants and their families.
“This general election will be an important moment for immigration in this country. It is an opportunity to assess the changes which have occurred over the past two decades and address shortfalls which have left many feeling vulnerable, isolated and removed from Irish society,” said Brian Killoran.
He explained that across Europe immigration is dominating election campaigns.
“In Ireland we so far have escaped the swing to the right. But we cannot be complacent. 17 percent of people who call Ireland home were born elsewhere; they, like everyone in this country, deserve to be treated with equality, fairness and justice,” he said.
The Roscrea man said that during the past year alone the front line services of the Immigrant Council answered over 5,000 calls for help.
“The vast majority related to people who felt lost or trapped in a cumbersome immigration system which lacks clear rules and guidelines and does not have an independent appeals mechanism. People want their right to be a family, entitlement to work and access to citizenship respected,” he said.
In relation to trafficking of people for the sex industry he said that the Council also helped those in vulnerable and dangerous situations and represented 19 victims of sex trafficking. The council also responded to more than 200 incidents of racism.
“We owe it to our clients not only to help resolve their individual cases but also to use their experience to bring about wholesale reforms,” he said.
In the coming months the Immigrant Council of Ireland will engage with politicians from all sides to seek a number of commitments including:
• The introduction of modern, efficient and transparent immigration system with independent appeals
• Review anti-hate crime laws
• Prioritisation of human trafficking in laws on organised crime
The CEO took up the post yesterday (Sunday, 1 March 2015) and he replaces Denise Charlton who led the organisation for the past 13 years.
Founder of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said, “The Immigrant Council of Ireland has under the leadership of Denise Charlton always punched above its weight. With her guidance and management the Council has established a legal expertise which is recognised by the Irish Courts and the institutions of the European Union and the Council of Europe.”
“On the issues of immigration reform, trafficking and racism it has become a credible voice which has the ears of lawmakers.”
She added that it is a tribute to the organisation’s standing that Denise Charlton has agreed to continue to have a role.
“Under Brian’s leadership we will build on what has already been achieved and work towards our key goals which will deliver systems which are fair for migrants, Irish citizens and the country as a whole,” she said.
Brian Killoran grew up in Roscrea and attended Our Lady’s Secondary School in Templemore.
He studied at NUI Galway and Dublin City University.
He started work at the Immigrant Council ten years ago as Information Officer which involved providing information directly to migrants and their families. Other positions he held included Head of Support Services and Integration Manager.
At the announcement of his appointment in January 2015 he highlighted two pieces of legislation to watch during 2015 – the new Sexual Offences Bill which is expected to include laws to end demand for prostitution, and the review of hate crime legislation.