Written Answers. - Asylum Applications.

Seán Ryan

Question:

56 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to claims made by the Irish Refugee Council that asylum seekers were being deported from the State without being given the opportunity to apply for asylum; the steps he is taking to investigate these claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17115/03]

I have no evidence that asylum seekers are being removed from the State without being given the opportunity to make an asylum claim.

Where a person claims asylum upon arrival at a port of entry to the State, leave to land is granted by an immigration officer in accordance with section 9(1) of the Refugee Act, as amended. Prior to the implementation of that Act in November 2000, immigration officers received training concerning,inter alia, their obligation to assist asylum applicants in making their applications.

In the first five months of this year almost 600 people claimed asylum at our airports and ports. During the 12 months of 2002, 1868 people claimed asylum at these points of entry. In addition many more claimed asylum at the Refugee Applications Commissioner's office in Mount Street. This evidence of the situation generally is not consistent with the allegations contained in the Deputy's question.