It is reported that the new immigration bill being prepared by the Government will include a provision making it obligatory for all non-EU citizens residing in Ireland to carry identity cards.

The report - in this morning's Irish Independent - said the cards would carry biometric details of the holder.

It is believed that the new legislation would compel all non-EU nationals to carry biometric ID cards which would condense details of their residence permits on an electronic strip.

It is understood the legislation would oblige those who have no valid legal residence permit to leave the State and allow the authorities to detain and deport illegal immigrants.

Suspected illegal immigrants or asylum seekers would also be prevented from getting married as a basis for becoming an Irish resident and there would be changes to the welfare payment system to make payments less readily available.

The Refugee Appeals Tribunal would be abolished and replaced by a new appeals body called the Protection Review Tribunal.

A Department of Justice spokesman confirmed that an Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill is being prepared and will be brought to cabinet by the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, shortly.

The spokesman added that the department would not comment on the content of the bill at this stage.