Written answers

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Department of Justice and Equality

Immigration and Naturalisation Service Delays

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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171. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures being taken to reduce current queues and waiting times at the Garda National Immigration Bureau on Burgh Quay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25046/14]

Photo of Niall CollinsNiall Collins (Limerick, Fianna Fail)
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172. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if her attention has been drawn to increased waiting times and queues at the Garda National Immigration Bureau on Burgh Quay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25047/14]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 172 together.

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) provides registration functions for all Non-EEA persons who intend to reside in the State for longer than 90 days. These functions are provided from the Burgh Quay offices in respect of the Dublin Metropolitan Region. The offices also provides a range of other immigration related services with in the region of 130,000 per annum attending.

The nature of the services provided is such that it is demand led and accordingly, there are peaks and valleys in the numbers of callers at different times of the year. The Burgh Quay offices are open for registrations from 8am to 9pm Monday – Thursday and 8am – 6pm on Fridays. Whilst this requires significant staff resources, the long opening hours are aimed at catering for applicants who may be studying or working and find it more convenient to come to the office outside of office hours. Specific times are set aside for certain categories of persons such as students.

In common with the operation of immigration functions in other States, immigrants are required to present in person at our offices. This is necessary and unavoidable for establishment of identity and as an anti-fraud measure and is the practice of immigration services worldwide. My Department’s customer service charter encompasses INIS and the organisation is continually seeking to improve the quality of services provided to customers. A major overhaul of the public reception facilities in Burgh Quay with expanded, dedicated areas for dealing with the public has recently been completed. In addition, the immigration service is planning to introduce an on-line booking system for appointments which is part of a wider plan to transfer the registration function from the Garda National Immigration Bureau to INIS. The aim of the booking system is to give certainty to customers that they will be dealt with within a stated time window and at the same time enabling the immigration service to match its staff resources to meet demand at any particular time. The new reception facilities have been designed to cater for such a system.

Finally, I might add that this office is probably one of the busiest Public Offices with some of the longest opening times in the State. As I indicated earlier, around 130,000 persons attend the Burgh Quay office each year, which I am sure the Deputy will appreciate presents ongoing logistical challenges. While I am advised that over the past 18 months there has been no unmanageable issues with queues taking into account the scale of the operation involved, I nevertheless and anxious that queuing be reduced to the absolute minimum at the earliest possible opportunity. I am confident that the measures outlined above will further improve the services provided to its customers calling to this office.

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