29 January 2021

Press release: Irish Refugee Council raise concerns about increasing delays in the Irish protection process

The Irish Refugee Council today raised concerns around increasing delays in the Irish protection process. Figures released via parliamentary questions made by Catherine Connolly TD indicated that: 

  • The median processing time for international protection applications determined in 2020, by the International Protection Office (IPO) was 17.6 months and 12.7 months for prioritised applications.
  •  It was stated in November that family reunification decisions were made within 12 months of the application. 

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said:  

“We are gravely concerned about increasing delays in the protection process. Lives are on hold, people are living in Direct Provision, which is particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 outbreaks, futures are uncertain and people are separated from family who may be living in danger in their home country. In our experience, this all causes immense anxiety, stress and among many, depression.”

 “Unfortunately, nearly a year into the pandemic, it seems there has been little preparation for processing applications during a third lockdown. We acknowledge the impact of Covid-19, but as UNHCR stated on thursday, it is possible to protect against the pandemic and to ensure access to fair and speedy protection processes. Unless action is taken quickly, achieving the six month target of the Advisory Group for considering first instance applications is very remote."

"In the short term we recommend use of Section 35 of the International Protection Act 2015 which allows for dispensing of the interview when, based on available evidence, a person is a refugee. Also, we believe ‘in person’ interviews can take place during Level 5 with the necessary precautions; video interviews could occur when appropriate and when the person consents; also decisions should be issued when interviews have already taken place.”

 “Front and central to the Catherine Day Advisory Group report is the recommendation around reducing the backlog of cases. This involves offering anyone who has been more than two years in the system by the end of 2020, permission remain. This is a crucial recommendation, both to reducing delays but also winding down Direct Provision and creating now accommodation models. Without this, we do not believe that delays can be reduced and the backlog at the IPO, which has 5,000 cases on hand, cannot be reduced.”



Contact: Nick Henderson, CEO, 0858585559