Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Ceisteanna (226)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

226. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason for the delay between an initial application for refugee status from the International Protection Office, the notification that the application is successful and a letter from his Department confirming same, which the applicant needs to receive a GNIB card. [46054/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

International protection is a complex legal process driven by both national and international law which works to protect the rights of those genuinely seeking protection by ensuring that all applications are examined in a consistently rigorous and fair manner. This means treating all applications on their individual merits which inevitably takes time.

Following the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 (‘the 2015 Act’) on 31 December 2016, the International Protection Office (IPO) inherited a significant backlog of cases already in train under the Refugee Act, 1996.  In keeping with the principle of fairness, these older cases had to be processed first, resulting in delays for new applications made from that time.

In addition to the complexities of each case at an operational level, many applicants for international protection do not speak English.  Therefore, the requirement to ensure that the facts of each case are recorded accurately often involves both interpretation and document translation which can add to the overall time it takes to process an individual case.

Applicants can assist in ensuring the more efficient processing of their applications.  Completion of the IPO2 International Protection Questionnaire is a key element of the protection process.  The sooner this document is returned, the sooner it can be translated and the application can progress to the next stage of the process.  Similarly, the personal interview is at the core of the protection process.  Applicants should ensure that they do not postpone these interviews without good reason as this will delay the processing of their claim.

The Deputy will be interested to note that applications for international protection have increased year on year since the commencement of the 2015 Act:

Year

No. of Applications for asylum/international protection

2016

2,244

2017

2,926

2018

3,673

2019

3,762 (to end September)

Applications in September 2019 alone saw a 42% increase on the figure for the same period in 2018.  When applications for persons arriving in Ireland under the EU relocation mechanism are excluded, the increase for the same period in 2018 rises to 60.2%.

A recommendation letter from the International Protection Office is not in itself a grant or status letter but, rather, a recommendation as to whether a grant of international protection should be made or not made.

Once the necessary due diligence has been carried out by my Department, a declaration of status will issue as soon as possible.  Recommendations received from the International Protection Office and decisions of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal are processed in chronological order based on the date the file is received  from the IPO or IPAT.

I am assured that applicants receive a decision as soon as possible following a recommendation letter from the IPO in relation to their application.