The Immigrant Council of Ireland has criticised the proposed Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, saying it mirrors existing legislation and may be unconstitutional in parts.

The council says the bill fails to address issues such as long-term residence and family reunification.

The organisation's CEO, Denise Charlton, also criticised the timing of the publication, saying there was not sufficient time for the Oireachtas to properly debate the bill in the lifetime of the current Government.

The bill, which was published today, requires foreign nationals who are legally resident in the State to carry new permit cards under the immigration.

The permits will be in a credit card format, showing a photograph of the holder and containing biometric information.

The bill also includes a provision that would allow some foreign nationals to obtain long-term residence permits giving them similar rights to Irish citizens.

Publishing the bill, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said Ireland had to keep pace with the challenges and opportunities of substantial immigration.

He said the bill would provide the State with the tools to do this.

Mr McDowell said he wanted to encourage those with experience and skills that are in short supply to come and work here.

The bill applies primarily to foreign nationals who are from outside the European Union.