By way of background, I would like to clarify the primary functions carried out by the Repatriation Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service which are:
(i) to consider and make decisions on applications for leave to remain in the State submitted by failed asylum seekers or persons who have become otherwise illegally present in the State,
(ii) to consider and make decisions on applications for Subsidiary Protection in the State submitted by failed asylum seekers,
(iii) to make practical arrangements for the deportation of persons issued with a Deportation Order,
(iv) to make practical arrangements for the transfer to another State of persons issued with a Dublin II Regulation Transfer Order,
(v) to assist in the voluntary return to their countries of origin of failed asylum seekers or other non-EEA national persons who wish to avail of this option,
(vi) to consider and make decisions on applications for renewal of leave to remain in the State submitted by persons already granted such status,
(vii) to consider and make decisions on applications for the revocation of an existing Deportation Order,
(viii) to respond, on behalf of the Minister, to legal challenges to any of the Division's decisions and
(ix) to carry out all administrative support functions arising from the Division's areas of responsibility.
The Deputy will note from the above that the great majority of the Division's work is paper based and, as such, the Division's transactions and decisions are carried out in written form. The Deputy will also appreciate the importance of all such business being carried out in a manner which respects customer confidentiality, a position that cannot be assured were important matters to be conducted through the medium of telephone communications. However, that said, it is not true to say that the Repatriation Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service is only contactable by post. That Division can be contacted by telephone in the context of general repatriation related queries and in the context of customer specific queries where the bona fides of the person making a telephone enquiry are not in doubt. However where doubts exist, any person making a customer specific telephone enquiry is, not unreasonably, asked to convey such an enquiry in writing to include a notification of the written consent of the person who is the subject of the enquiry, to ensure that customer confidentiality is protected at all times.
The Deputy might also wish to note that all relevant general information relating to the work of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, including the Repatriation Division, is available on the Service's Website i.e. www.inis.gov.ie. Additionally, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has a telephone helpline in place to respond to general queries relating to the Service's functions.
In relation to the possible establishment of a procedure to deal with general queries and complaints relating to delays, the Deputy should note that my Department already responds to a substantial number of written enquiries on a daily basis from individual applicants, from applicants' legal representatives, from NGOs acting on behalf of applicants and from parliamentarians, both through the medium of responses to written representations and Parliamentary Questions.