Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is urging the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) to “act urgently” after one of its members, Una McGurk was at a Dublin protest against Covid-19 face-mask measures.
It comes as a a number of TDs are calling on the chair of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal to addresss concerns after one of its part-time members spoke at Saturday's anti-masks protest in Dublin.
Senior Counsel Una McGurk is one of 66 immigration lawyers listed as a part-time member of the Tribunal that decides on asylum cases.
She appeared at yesterday's rally at the Customs House, which was also attended by groups which oppose immigration and opponents of the State's vaccination programmes.
Speaking about the matter, Minister for Integration, Roderic O'Gorman says the tribunal has to be "seen to be objective", while Sinn Féin's Justice spokesman Martin Kenny and Labour's Brendan Howlin also raised concerns.
It is vital that all members of the IPAT are objective in their work and that they are seen to be objective. I’ve raised my concerns over yesterday’s protest with Minister McEntee and I’ll be keeping in contact with her about this issue.
— Roderic O’Gorman TD (@rodericogorman) August 23, 2020
Mr Kenny says Ms McGurk's appearance there was inappropriate:
“It is with great concern that I see that a state appointee to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal spoke from the platform today at a rally in Dublin called to deny that there is a pandemic and to encourage people not to wear facemasks.
“The same rally was addressed by Michael Leahy of the Irish Freedom Party, a right-wing, anti-immigration organisation and others who have already been discredited for their stance that the Covid-19 pandemic is a conspiracy.
He says that Ms McGurk claims the government is asking people to wear masks, not for their own protection, but to 'test how compliant (people) are'.
Justice Minister must clarify appearance of IPAT member at right-wing rally - Martin Kenny TD | Sinn Féin. https://t.co/m4tUj1fbiL
— Martin Kenny (@Martin_Kenny) August 22, 2020
Yesterday's event was organised by Health Freedom Ireland who, according to their Twitter account, "Empower Irish people to make informed decisions on their health including vaccination for themselves and their families."
Ms McGurk is senior counsel of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, established in December 2016 to hear and determine appeals on decisions made by the International Protection Officer on applications for protection status in Ireland.
— HealthFreedomIreland (@HealthFreedomIE) August 23, 2020
Attempts to contact her for comment so far have been unsuccessful.