Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Ceisteanna (192)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

192. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who are in the asylum process for more than three, five and seven years, respectively, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19702/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

It is important to note that a very small proportion of applicants in the system for three or more years are awaiting a first instance decision on their refugee status. They will have had a negative first instance decision which determines that they have not demonstrated that they are in need of international protection. If they remain as applicants for the years in question, they are likely to be exercising their right to appeal either to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal or to the Courts for Judicial Review. Applications remain live on the system while the Courts determine the cases presented.  

On 31 December 2016, the International Protection Act 2015 (IPA 2015) was commenced, providing for the introduction of a single application procedure for people seeking international protection in the State. The 2015 Act replaces the previous sequential application system with a single application process, for asylum, subsidiary protection and permission to remain in the State, bringing Ireland into line with the processing arrangements applicable in other EU Member States. However, the Act also contained transitional arrangements which has put further pressures on processing. The main challenge now faced is the need to quickly process the substantial number of cases on hand many of which were carried over from the previous system. 

As of 27 April 2018, there are a total of 5,300 applications for international protection pending in the IPO. Some 2,200 applications were made before the commencement of the 2015 Act but were not finalised by the former Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and the former Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) by that date. These applications reverted to be processed by the IPO under the transitional provisions of the 2015 Act. Notwithstanding the increased caseload arising from the transitional arrangements, over 87% of applications are in the system for less than 3 years. This is a major improvement from the situation when the McMahon Working Group reported on the matter in June 2015.

The challenge of clearing this additional caseload is being addressed by deploying increased resources and a continued review of efficiency and effective use of those resources, having due regard to the requirements of the 2015 Act, in order to maximise quality output, produce impartial decisions and ensure value for money for the taxpayer. In this regard, it is planned to increase the strength of the IPO Processing Panel over the coming months following public advertisement and interview.

The following Table provides a breakdown of the numbers of applicants 3 years and more being dealt with by the International Protection Office (IPO) and the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT). It is of note that approximately 40% of the applicants in the IPO figures were returned from the RAT under the transition arrangements under the Act. In addition, over 80 cases included in the overall figures in the table are the subject of Judicial Reviews, usually instigated by the applicants.

Timescale since first application

No. cases in the IPO

No. cases in the IPAT

3 years - 5 years

447

176

5 years - 7 years

17

9

7 years or more

51

23