Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
374. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons applying for international protection in the past four years; the number of successful and unsuccessful applications, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3126/20]
My Department has introduced a number of measures in recent years aimed at reducing the time taken to determine applications. The most significant reforming measure has been the introduction of a single application procedure under the International Protection Act 2015. Under the single procedure, all elements of a person's protection claim (refugee status, subsidiary protection status and permission to remain) are considered together rather than sequentially as heretofore.
A person who applies for international protection today can expect to receive a first instance recommendation/decision on their application within approximately 15 months, provided no complications arise. Prioritised cases are currently being processed in just over 9 months. Prioritised applications include those from especially vulnerable groups of applicants, such as unaccompanied minors and applicants from refugee generating countries like Syria and Eritrea. The International Protection Office (IPO) is working hard to try to achieve a target of 9 months in the vast majority of cases while acknowledging that the processing of applications is complex and that each application deserves and receives an individual assessment.
In addition, the IPO commenced interviews by video conference in November 2019, with applicants from the south of Ireland attending their interview in Cork. The IPO then embarked on the next stage of the project and engaged with the Courts Service to conduct interviews from video suites in courthouses, commencing with Sligo in early 2020. The first video conference interviews from Sligo courthouse took place in January 2020 and further interviews are scheduled for early March. This provides greater flexibility to meet the needs of international protection applicants who reside outside of Dublin.
In addition, I sought and achieved an additional €1m in Budget 2020 under the Justice and Equality vote which will allow for extra staffing resources to further improve processing times.
Annual statistics in respect of applications for international protection made in 2018 and 2017 (under the International Protection Act 2015) are available online from the International Protection Office at www.ipo.gov.ie
Annual statistics in respect of applications for asylum made in 2016 (under the Refugee Act 1996) are available online on the website for the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner at www.orac.ie
However, I set out in the following table the number of persons who have applied for International Protection under the International Protection Act 2015 and the number who were successful and unsuccessful in those years.
Final decisions made by my Department relate only to decisions made in the year, not when the application was made.
The Deputy will note that there was an increase in applications in 2019 of just over 30% on applications in 2018 and an increase over the four year period of 113%.
The Department completed decisions in 82.5% more cases in 2019 over the figure in 2018.