Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Questions (632)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

632. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice the median processing times for applications for protection to the International Protection Office from date of application to decision; the median processing times for appeals to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal from date of appeal to decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3953/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The median processing time for all international protection applications determined in 2020, by the International Protection Office (IPO) was 17.6 months and 12.7 months for prioritised applications. For cases decided in the Ministerial Decisions Unit in 2020, the median processing time was 1.6 months.

The median processing time for all international protection appeals determined in 2020, by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) was 9 months.

All figures for 2020 are provisional and subject to an element of data clean-up.

Efforts to improve processing times have been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the output of decisions considerably and has impacted on the target set by the International Protection Office (IPO) to make first instance decisions in the vast majority of cases within 9 months. The return to Level 5 restrictions from 26 December 2020, has resulted in the postponement of protection interviews, until an easing of the public health measures permits their safe resumption.

I welcome the key recommendation of the Expert Advisory Group on reducing processing times for both first instance decisions and appeals to 6 months each, as far as possible. Work is underway in my Department towards achieving this objective, which includes an end to end process review of the international protection and related immigration processes.

Notwithstanding the progress being made on implementing the recommendations, there are certain current constraints and challenges for my Department in delivering some of the recommendations of the Advisory Group for reduced processing timelines given the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on current operations.