The specific issue arises in relation to cases of asylum or subsidiary protection. Under Section 26 of the International Protection Act 2015, it is an offence to identify an international protection applicant. The offence is punishable by summary conviction to a Class A fine or a term of imprisonment of 12 months or both.
As a result, it would be contrary to national law for I or my Department officials to provide information which pertains to the applicant or their application. Even to confirm that an application has been made would be to identify the individual as an applicant. The Chief International Protection Officer and his team of International Protection Officers are also bound by the confidentiality provisions of Section 26 of the 2015 Act to protect the identity of the applicant.
There are a number of reasons why the individual circumstances pertaining to applications for international protection require that the very strictest rules of confidentiality are upheld to ensure the identity of those who apply for international protection is not revealed, either directly or indirectly. In particular, it is important to note that the authorities of some countries of origin may engage in the monitoring of the activities of their nationals abroad. The very act of making an application for international protection, which alleges persecution by the State, is viewed in some jurisdictions as an act of disloyalty or aggression by that person against their country of origin. This could lead to remaining families and relatives of such applicants becoming a target.
Where an applicant or their designated legal adviser wishes to obtain information in relation to their application they can contact the International Protection Office directly either by email to email@example.com, by telephone to the IPO Customer Service Centre at 01 6028008 or in writing to Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.
These provisions only relate to international protection applicants.
Queries in respect of other application types may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.