PQ: Asylum Applications

Tue, March 22, 2016

234. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the provisions of the new International Protection Act 2015 will apply to all asylum seekers and refugees seeking asylum here many who have been here for a number or years in direct provision, or will it only apply to new applicants; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The International Protection Act 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 transitional provisions in the Act set out how asylum applications which are pending in the existing system on the commencement date will be dealt with. If cases have progressed beyond a certain point in the existing system they will be processed to finality as quickly as possible under the old legislation. All other cases pending in the system will be brought within the single procedure with any decisions already taken in respect of them up to that point preserved. Detailed work on planning to commence the single application protection system is under way with a view to commencing it in the coming period.