Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (711, 718)

Emer Higgins


711. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Justice if deportation orders have been served on healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic; if so, if her Department will review these orders given the current healthcare staff shortages; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38022/20]

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Bríd Smith


718. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice if she will detail her policy on the possible deportation of applicants during the current Covid-19 crisis in respect of a number of asylum seeker applications; if she will consider a halt to all deportation orders during this period in view of the health risks involved; if she will clarify regarding persons (details supplied) revoking the orders already made in recognition of their contribution to healthcare and the wider arts community during this crisis. [38089/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 711 and 718 together.

I fully acknowledge the important contribution that migrants have made to health and social care and other essential services in Ireland during the pandemic and beyond.

Humanitarian factors, employment records and other elements are considered as part of the permission to remain process. Each case is examined in detail on its individual merits, taking all factors into account.

My objective is to have decisions on international protection applications and permission to remain considerations made as soon as is possible. This ensures that those who are found to be in need of protection can receive it quickly and begin rebuilding their lives here with a sense of safety and security.

For those found not to be in need of international protection, a detailed consideration of all aspects of their case will have been carried out before a decision is made to grant permission to remain in the State or to make a Deportation Order. This includes a full consideration of their private and family rights in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights as well as consideration of their work situation, among other issues. If a Deportation Order is subsequently made, Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) allows an Order to be amended or revoked by making a request to me as Minister for Justice.

When a person receives a letter informing them of their negative international protection decision and informing them that they no longer have permission to remain in the State, they are required to confirm within 5 days if they will accept the option of voluntary return, for which the Department will provide assistance. To be clear, the person is not required to remove themselves from the State within 5 days – they are required to indicate an intent to do so. The time taken for relevant voluntary return arrangements to be made will take into account all factors, including Covid-19 restrictions and limitations to travel this has created. I have asked my officials to consider the process of issuing the letters for the duration of Level 5 restrictions and no negative decisions have been issued in the period since.

I encourage people to be as detailed as possible in their representations to me and my Department so that we can make fully informed decisions at the appropriate time.

While the execution of a Deportation Order is a matter for An Garda Síochána, I can assure the Deputy that my Department takes a pragmatic approach to such matters in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.