Written Answers. - Asylum Applications.

Ivor Callely


96 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the feedback he has received from the Garda National Immigration Bureau on bogus asylum seekers endeavouring to enter while heavily pregnant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26561/01]

The Garda national immigration bureau was established in May 2000 and is responsible for all Garda matters pertaining to immigration on a national basis. Members of an Garda Síochána acting in their capacity as immigration officers at ports of entry to the State are required under the provisions of the Refugee Act, 1996, to receive applications for political asylum and to permit applicants to remain in the State while their applications are being processed. Garda immigration officers are not in a position to determine whether asylum claims are well founded and such determinations are outside their remit.

Notwithstanding that there is a considerable amount of evidence to suggest that a significant proportion of adult female asylum applicants are pregnant upon arrival in the State and that their decision to seek asylum in Ireland is, at least in part, motivated by the anticipation of the benefits which might accrue for themselves, their partner and their child as a result of that child being born in Ireland and therefore automatically deriving an entitlement to Irish citizenship. There are good grounds for believing that Ireland's unusual legal situation in this regard is well known abroad.
In 2001 to end October, my Department has received 4,503 applications for permission to remain on the basis of parentage of an Irish citizen child from current or former asylum applicants. While it is the case that some such persons could also have a well founded basis for seeking asylum, a large proportion of such applicants either withdraw their asylum claims when seeking permission to remain or are refused refugee status under the provisions of the Refugee Act, 1996.