The Minister for Justice has said that a new bill to allow legal immigration is being drafted. John O'Donoghue has also defended the Government's current policy on refugees and has called on all those involved to debate the problem rationally. Speaking on RTÉ radio earlier today, Minister O'Donoghue said that all illegal immigrants would be dealt with sympathetically, but that they would have to leave the state.

He said that the government's policy was fair and humane. He is in the process of finalising plans to allow for legal immigration with the Tánaiste's Department. The refugee issue has taken centre stage this week, partly due to comments by the Chairman of the Eastern Health Board, Fianna Fáil deputy Ivor Callely, who said that the Government should get tough on asylum seekers and throw out illegal immigrants.

Mr Callely has tonight re-iterated that his remarks were misinterpreted and added that he believed that all genuine asylum seekers should be integrated into the state as quickly as possible.