Irish Refugee Council urges Minister to address root causes of problems in the asylum and immigration systems

Posted On: 4 January 2012

The Irish Refugee Council urges the Minister for Justice to focus on fair and efficient decision-making procedures and to introduce a robust, independent appeal process as part of the reform of the asylum and immigration system.  However, the IRC notes that the Minister’s statement on immigration failed to address the problems of lengthy delays and low acceptance rates in the asylum system.

Sue Conlan, Chief Executive of the IRC, says: “We welcome the Minister for Justice’s general commitment to reform of the protection and immigration systems but any such reform must address the root causes of the problems in the immigration and protection system.

“The rate for acceptance of asylum applications has increased in 2011. However, Ireland still lags far behind its European neighbours, despite the fact that applicants come from similar countries of origin. This is due to a lack of legal advice and support for asylum seekers in making their initial application, the absence of a single protection procedure and inadequacies in the appeals system.”

In 2010, Ireland had an acceptance rate of 1.3%, the lowest in Europe.   As of November 2011, 57 people had been granted refugee status out of 1,738 applicants or 3.27% at first instance.  The European average in 2010 was 24%.

“The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill as proposed in 2010 will not resolve the problems of poor quality decision-making and delay, which have made the immigration and asylum systems costly in financial and human terms.  These can only be addressed by placing the emphasis on supporting strong initial applications with legal advice and by introducing an effective independent appeal that would alleviate the need for recourse to expensive judicial reviews.”

The IRC proposes a new appeals body that would have jurisdiction to hear appeals on both asylum and immigration matters.   This would replace the current Refugee Appeals Tribunal and fulfil the commitment in the Programme for Government to create a statutory appeals mechanism to deal with immigration decisions.  According to the IRC, the current appeals body does not represent an effective remedy.

“The appeals system proposed in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 bears little difference to the current Tribunal and fails to introduce the checks and balances needed to create an effective remedy.  Independent appointment of Tribunal members, clear procedural rules and the publication of Tribunal decisions are key to an effective appeals body,” says Sue Conlan.


Further information

Sharon Waters                  085 8585 510


Notes to editor