The Working Group Report, while welcome, is a missed opportunity says IRC

Posted On: 30 June 2015

EndDPMEDIA RELEASE, 30 June 2015

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) welcomes the Working Group report recommendations for reform of the refugee and subsidiary protection application process and proposals for making decisions on outstanding protection claims or leave to remain applications for people in the system for more than five years.   The recommendations for reform of the application process, based upon the principles in particular of EU asylum law and international best practice will, if implemented, greatly enhance the ability of Ireland to provide international protection to those seeking safety here into the future.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the IRC, said: “It is clear that a wealth of information and evidence has been considered by the Working Group and that the recommendations are a serious attempt to address the perceived reasons for the delays that have led to people being in the system for an average of four years.”

“The recommendation that people in the system for more than five years should have a final decision within six months will be good news for many people. The question is what happens to people who are in the system now, before a single procedure is introduced, and who will not benefit from proposals for new applicants or for those in the system for more than five years. They do not seem to have received serious consideration by the Working Group”, she went on to say.

Conlan continued: “It is unfortunate that the Working Group has enunciated a principle that effectively endorses the practice of people being allowed to remain in the system for five years, particularly when it leaves in place the system of Direct Provision which has been so roundly condemned, both nationally and internationally.”

“If you start from the premise that Direct Provision will remain in place, then the Working Group has done well to make recommendations that improve that system. If, however, you start from the premise (based on the evidence available) that the Direct Provision system itself is damaging to the health, welfare and development of people, particularly children, then no amount of improvement can detract from the damage that has and will continue to be caused to people with no other choice but to live in such an environment.”

Conlan added: “Notwithstanding the recommendations for future reform, the approach of the Working Group is fundamentally flawed. Whilst accepting that the length of time spent in the system is crucial, no attempt has been made to analyse the reasons for the delay beyond the lack of a single procedure. There is no reference to the consistent failure to provide proper legal advice for protection applicants, to address the legacy of poor decision-making or to put in place sufficient resources to make timely decisions. In addition, it cannot be right in today’s Ireland, that people are forced to live in institutionalised centres, effectively cut off from mainstream society. ”



Caroline Reid, Communications Officer, 085 858 5510,

Sue Conlan, CEO, 085 803 0114,



Link to full report available here.

  1. Recommendations from the Working Group which bring Ireland into line with international best practice include: the recommendation to introduce the principle of the best interests of the child in decisions which affect them; and for the right of a child to be heard, giving effect to Ireland’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  1. The recommendations relating to people in the system for more than five years includes: people with outstanding protection claims; and those on Deportation Orders.
  1. Extracts from the report about the ‘principle’ of five years:

“For those in the system a long time, the Working Group’s proposed solutions are founded on the principle that no person should be in the system for five years or more.” (para. 25)

“Having considered the views of persons in the consultations process, reviewed relevant statistics, consulted with experts and taken account of humanitarian considerations, the Working Group considers that no persons should, in principle, be in the system for five years or more. The Working Group makes the suite of recommendations below to give effect to this principle for those in the system.” (Para. 3.126)

“A time limit could assist in the allocation of adequate resources to the system and the future single procedure by creating a policy imperative to ensure cases are finalised well before the five year mark. In its operation, it would ensure that persons at the five year mark would have a route to exit the system, thus preventing any future build-up of cases at the five year mark.” (para. 3.167)

“The time limit measure set out above would facilitate the exit from Direct Provision of all persons at the five year mark into the future.” (Para. 3.168)

The Irish Refugee Council will be conducting and making public a more in-depth analysis.