Thursday, 15 May 2014
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision System
188. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 459 of 25 June 2013 and 13 February 2014 the number of persons living in direct provision and elsewhere here who made their application for protection more than five years ago and are awaiting or engaged in asylum-related judicial review proceedings; if she will provide a breakdown by duration of persons within this group who have deportation orders and by duration and current stage of asylum process of persons within this group who do not have deportation orders. [21930/14]
I would refer the Deputy to my predecessor's reply to this Question on 30 April, 2014, the details of which are set out as follows:
QUESTION 577 of 30 April, 2014:
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 194 of 13 February 2014, the position regarding the status of the outstanding information as requested.
I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the information sought by the Deputy, specifically, details of the number of persons in Direct Provision and elsewhere who made their application for protection more than five years ago and are awaiting or engaged in asylum related judicial review proceedings. Before addressing the specifics of the Deputy's question it is important to put the relevant data in context. Firstly, it needs to be understood that the figures involved are constantly evolving and changing due to court outcomes at one end of the process, new proceedings entering the process at the other end as well as constant changes in the age profile of existing applications that are subject to Judicial Review (JR). Secondly, in quoting a figure in respect of Judicial Reviews it is important to note that the figures only represents the number of persons who have an active JR at that particular point in time. Thus a case which has been held up for a significant period of time (sometimes years), and only recently been decided / withdrawn / settled will not be reflected in figures quoted below. However, such Judicial Reviews will be the primary reason why many cases are over 5 years in the system even though the applicant currently may not be subject to an active Judicial Review. In addition, because families are invariably processed together a Judicial Review by a single member of a family will have the effect of holding up the processing of a significantly larger number of persons in the system. Finally, where a person has more than one JR taken against various bodies such as the ORAC, RAT, INIS, etc. these are counted only once in the figures.
For the reasons outlined above it would be misleading to draw a direct correlation between the number of active Judicial Reviews and the number of applications of a particular age profile in the system. However, it is clear, for the reasons outlined in the preceding paragraphs that Judicial Reviews have a major impact on processing times and the number of applicants impacted is significantly greater than the number of active Judicial Reviews in the system at any particular point in time. While every applicant has, of course, the right to seek redress in the Courts, the reality is that such Reviews (sometimes taken at different stages of the process) will inevitably prolong the period the applicants remain in the system until a final determination can be made in their case.
I am advised by the INIS that there are around 900 Judicial Reviews currently ongoing in respect of the persons who made an application for asylum over 5 years ago. There are over 350 Judicial Reviews challenging Deportation Orders, a very large proportion of which relate to failed protection applicants whose cases are more than five years old. The other JR’s are challenging decisions of the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner ORAC), appeal decisions of the Office of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) or subsidiary protection decisions.
With regards to the processing of applications for subsidiary protection, the Deputy will be aware that responsibility for the processing of subsidiary protection applications passed from the Minister for Justice and Equality to ORAC in November 2013 when I signed into law the European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 426 of 2013). Significant effort and additional resources (including engaging a panel of legally qualified persons to process cases) are being allocated to the establishment and operation of the new arrangements for the processing of these cases which include personal interviews for each applicant at the first instance and oral appeals by RAT of decisions of the ORAC. The ORAC, in consultation with the UNHCR, have recently published on its website details of how it will prioritise the process of scheduling persons for interview taking into account, inter-alia, dealing with applicants who are longest in the system first. The intention in any event is to process as many of these cases as possible to finality together with consideration of any leave to remain aspects arising by the end of this year.