The Refugee Appeals Tribunal is an independent body established under the Refugee Act 1996. The tribunal comprises a Chairperson and, at the present time, 31 ordinary members appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
The criteria used in making appointments to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal are set out in the Second Schedule to the 1996 Act. Ordinary members of the tribunal who are part-time, hold office for a term of three years and, as in the case of the Chairperson, are required to have had not less than five years' experience as a practising barrister or practising solicitor before appointment.
The Chairperson is appointed following a competition held by the Civil Service Commission for a term of office of five years. While the post of Chairperson was advertised before it was filled by the present incumbent in 2000, there is no statutory requirement to advertise the position of ordinary member.
The tribunal has, and continues to play, a vital part in the Government's overall asylum strategy with a huge volume of appeals processed and dealt with in a timely, fair and effective manner in line with our international obligations. The tribunal is always ready for inspection by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' representative in Ireland. The momentum achieved in the tribunal's affairs is being maintained and the earnings of individual tribunal members are a reflection of the volume and throughput of cases essential to maintain that progress and a fair asylum process.
The existing arrangements are working well and there are no plans to review procedures for appointing ordinary members of the tribunal.