Immigration and asylum groups highlight urgent need for an independent appeals system

Posted On: 22 September 2011


Saturday, 19 February 2011:

Mr. Justice Blake, President of the Upper Tribunal of the Asylum and Immigration Chamber in the UK will outline the development of the UK’s 2-tier system dealing with both immigration and asylum decisions as part of an effective remedy in immigration and asylum law at a seminar hosted jointly by the Irish Refugee Council and the Immigrant Council of Ireland today (19/2/11).  Mr. Justice Blake will address an audience of lawyers, academics and policy-makers.

The Asylum and Immigration Process in a Democratic Society – The Role of an Independent Appeals System’ highlights the urgent need for a robust independent appeals process in Irish asylum and immigration law. The seminar will be chaired by Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission and former Supreme Court judge.

Sue Conlan, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council, says: “For too long the asylum system in Ireland has represented an unacceptable human and financial cost.  A truly independent appeals mechanism for both asylum and immigration decisions will provide those refused permission to enter or remain in Ireland or international protection with the opportunity to have their applications independently assessed and reduce the need for people to rely on the judicial review system.  It will go a long way towards improving the transparency and efficiency of the process both for decision makers as well as for migrants and protection seekers.”

Both the Irish Refugee Council and the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) are advocating for early reform of the asylum and immigration laws by the next government.  The most recent attempt at reform, the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 had not been passed before the end of the 30th Dáil.

ICI senior solicitor Hilkka Becker said three of the five main political parties – Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin – had committed to establishing an independent appeals tribunal for immigration decisions in their election manifestos.

“It is now crucial that they follow this through with action in the next Dáil term to ensure we have a fairer, more efficient and more cost effective immigration system,” Ms Becker said.  “But most importantly, Ireland’s traditional commitment to justice and fair play has been missing for too long from our approach to asylum and immigration policy and law, as has acknowledgment of the need to respect and uphold the fundamental human rights and dignity of those affected.  Establishing an independent appeals tribunal will be central to efforts to change this.”

Throughout the General Election campaign, the Irish Refugee Council is asking each candidate to commit to reforming asylum laws by signing up to an online ‘Asylum Reform Election Pledge’.   The pledge includes a commitment to reform within the lifetime of the next government, an end to the system of direct provision, and measures to protect the human rights and dignity of asylum seekers.




  • Mr. Justice Blake began practising as a barrister in 1975 in Garden Court Chambers.  In a career spanning over 30 years he has appeared in the House of Lords, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, and in landmark cases such as Chahal, Surinder Singh, Shah and Islam, Adan and Aitseguer, Baumbast, D v UK, Razgar, Huang, Januzi and Fornah.  In February 2010 he was appointed President of the Upper Tribunal of the Asylum and Immigration Chamber in the UK.  He has written extensively on human rights and immigration, and has participated in seminars on Refugee, EU and ECHR law including those of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges.


  • The Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2010 was the third attempt in the last decade to draft legislation to address asylum and immigration law.  The 2010 Bill was still at committee stage when the Dáil was dissolved.


  • Currently in Ireland, there is a right of appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT).  The RAT was established by the Immigration Act 1999 and commenced work in October 2000.  It is the only forum for any type of ‘immigration’ appeal in Ireland and only considers refusals of asylum, not subsidiary protection.