The eurosceptic Irish Freedom Party has called for a referendum on what they describe as the government’s “more radical” immigration proposals, saying that “on a matter of profound change, the Irish people should have the final say”.

“The Irish Freedom Party are calling for a referendum on recently announced plans relating to immigration,” the party said in a statement.

Speaking critically of the government’s recently proposed “national settlement” plan for asylum seekers, the party claimed that a significant increase in asylum applications would put further pressure on Ireland’s housing market, as well as public housing lists.

“In February, the Government published a White Paper on Direct Provision which promises to house asylum seekers within 4 months under a ‘national settlement’ plan,” the group said.

“It also includes a number of other recommendations which will make Ireland one of the most attractive places on earth to claim asylum. This will inevitably lead to a significant rise in asylum applications.

“These alarming proposals come at a time when Ireland is experiencing a huge housing and homeless problem. A report in 2019 revealed that over 18,000 people, 26.9% of those on the housing list, have been on it for a minimum of 7 years.

“These ill-conceived Government plans were described by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government as ‘not workable or implementable’ . They correctly point out that it would add pressure to the housing market and put asylum seekers in direct competition with families already on the housing list.”

The party additionally hit out at Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s plans to give amnesty to a significant number of illegal immigrants, claiming that this would “undermine” Ireland’s laws and borders.

“Last week, Justice Minister Helen McEntee also announced plans for an amnesty for over 17,000 Illegal immigrants. It is one of the most wide ranging and generous amnesty plans in the world. The Irish Freedom Party believes it undermines our laws and borders. It will encourage further illegal immigration and is an insult to those who have successfully migrated to Ireland legally. It also adds further competition in the jobs and housing.”

The group concluded that Irish political parties had become “paralysed” by “groupthink” and “political correctness” on matters such as immigration.

“It is clear the Irish Government and TD’s have no respect for Irish laws or public opinion. There has been no proper debate or scrutiny in the Oireachtas in respect of the above proposals. On matters relating to immigration, Irish politicians become paralysed by groupthink and political correctness.

“They seem incapable of having a mature and grown up debate on the long term consequences of their decisions. If they are so confident that the public supports these daft proposals, they will have no problem facilitating a referendum and seeking approval from the people, as they did in 2004.”

This refers to the 2004 birthright citizenship referendum, which was defeated by an overwhelming 79% – one of the most decisive referenda in Irish history.

“An ordinary referendum on the White Paper proposals and the Amnesty could be held later in the year. It could take place when restrictions ease, perhaps on the same date as the Dublin Bay South By-election,” the party suggested.

“On a matter of profound political, social or demographic change, the Irish people should have the final say,” they added.