PQ: Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Remit

Tue, March 22, 2016

235. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the changes she has implemented in her Department and in other concerned bodies, such as the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, to give effect to the changes initiated in the new International Protection Act 2015 which aims to speed up the process of seeking asylum here; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The International Protection Act 2015 was signed into law by the President on 30 December 2015. The new Act brings into effect major reforms to the system for determining applications for international protection in Ireland, through the introduction of a single application procedure. This new procedure provides that an applicant will have all grounds for seeking international protection (asylum and subsidiary protection) and to be permitted to remain in the State examined and determined in one process. This reform will significantly simplify and streamline existing arrangements and allow us to efficiently grant international protection to those who are entitled to it while identifying, at a much earlier stage, persons who have no entitlement to stay in the State and who can safely return to their country of origin. The Act is intended to achieve the desired balance between treating asylum seekers with humanity and respect and ensuring more efficient immigration procedures and safeguards.

The Act provides for the abolition of the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. This Office will be replaced with a new International Protection Office within the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. The Refugee Appeals Tribunal is also to be replaced by a new independent appeals body to be called the International Protection Appeals Tribunal. Detailed work on planning to commence the single application protection system is under way with a view to commencing it in the coming months.