Extraordinary delays in asylum system at ‘crisis point’ says IRC
2017-12-15 17:30:00 -

By Chinedu Onyejelem

Any delay in interviewing new asylum applicants or taking decisions on those already interviewed is putting the asylum system “at crisis point”, a refugee support group has warned.


Hundreds of asylum applicants who have been moved to the new international protection system have been waiting since the start of 2017 — and new applicants could face a wait of up to 20 months, according to the Irish Refugee Council (IRC).


“One year on from the introduction of the International Protection Act 2015, the State’s ability to handle asylum applications promptly is in crisis,” says IRC chief executive Nick Henderson.


In its calculations, the IRC says it understands that anyone who applies for asylum today and “whose case is not prioritised” would likely not be called for interview until at least the middle of 2019.


Henderson says such delays as they impact on the lives of applicants are intolerable — and potentially contravene European Union law, which calls on member states to process asylum applications within a “reasonable” period.


“International protection decision making is a critically important function of the State,” says Henderson. “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.”


The IRC warns that, unless the Government urgently addresses the situation, continued delays would be detrimental to asylum seekers’ “mental wellbeing and also damage longer term integration prospects”, as well as putting extra strain on the already struggling direct provision system.

While the wait for hundreds of asylum seekers continues, Henderson calls on the Government to expedite legislation for asylum seekers’ right to work. 


“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,” he says.


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