Media Centre Archive Refugee decision making waiting times at crisis point Hundreds of ‘transition’ applications waiting since beginning of 2017 At least a 20 month wait for asylum interview for new applications Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish refugee Council stated, “One year on from the introduction of the International Protection Act 2015 the State’s ability to handle asylum applications promptly is in crisis. The Irish Refugee Council understands that hundreds of people, who have already been waiting for an interview since the beginning of 2017, will not receive a decision until the middle of 2018. Also, a person who claims asylum today, whose case is not prioritised, will likely not be interviewed until the middle of 2019, a wait of at least 20 months. Such delays are completely unacceptable and potentially in contravention of European Union law which requires Member States to handle someone’s case as soon as possible and within a reasonable time. International protection decision making is a critically important function of the State. The Department of Justice should provide more resources and support to the International Protection Office, the body responsible for first instance decision making, as a matter of urgency. Support should continue to include training to frontline staff involved in decision making, quality assurance systems plus the necessary administrative resources needed. In the experience of the Irish Refugee Council delays of this length have an extremely negative effect on a person’s mental wellbeing and also damage longer term integration prospects. Many people have already endured long, hazardous journeys and stays in refugee camps before reaching Ireland. As the Supreme Court has required, the right to work should be provided to people, without any further delay, while they wait for a decision. These delays will also have a grave knock-on effect on the Direct Provision system which is already close to capacity. More people waiting for longer periods will mean increased pressure on people who have status being told to leave. It will also make it more difficult for people who need accommodation and who are trying to access Direct Provision support and who are currently being told there is no capacity. In both scenarios people are being exposed to the housing crisis and are at risk of homelessness.” - ENDS - Notes for editor: Article 23 (2) of Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status , which applies to Ireland, states that Member States shall ensure that such a procedure is concluded as soon as possible. Article 41.1 of The Charter of Fundamental Rights EU Charter states that every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union. As of October, the Reception and Integration Agency’s Direct Provision estate has only 438 vacancies across 32 centres. See October 2017 statistics. The International Protection Office (IPO) is an office within the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), itself a body of the Department of Justice responsible for processing applications for international protection under the International Protection Act 2015. The International Protection Act 2015 commenced on the 31 December 2016. The Supreme Court has stated that it will make a formal declaration on 9 February that the absolute ban preventing asylum seekers working here is unconstitutional.