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More people have applied for asylum this year than in the entire of 2014

The Direct Provision system is now “virtually full” according to justice minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Image: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

THERE’S BEEN A significant increase in the number of people from Pakistan and Bangladesh seeking asylum in Ireland.

An increased number of applications have also been received from Albania, Nigeria and India.

The number of applications in the six months up to the end of June has already exceeded the total number for all of last year, justice minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed.

“A total of 1,481 new asylum applications were received to the end of June this year compared with 597 for the same period in 2014,” the minister said, in response to a parliamentary question from independent TD Thomas Pringle.

“This is a year on year increase of 884 applicants or 148%.

“The top five source countries for applications in 2015 are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Albania, Nigeria, and India.

These countries account for some 70% of all applications received to end June. The sharpest increases relate to applications from Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals.

Fitzgerald said the increase was putting a significant strain on resources, “particularly on the Direct Provision system which is now virtually full”.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Annual Reports Frances Fitzgerald Source: Leah Farrell

Under the 1996 Refugee Act, people can make an asylum application as they enter the State, and can remain here pending the final outcome.

The rise this year reflects an increase in asylum applications across other EU states, and Minister Fitzgerald said she had asked her officials to “investigate the reasons giving rise to the sharp increase in applications from certain nationalities”.

“I want to make it clear that Ireland always has and will continue to live up to its obligations in relation to the granting of protection to those who are in need of it and meet the criteria set down in international and national law,” she said.

However, where such applicants are deemed to be unfounded, then they must leave the State when required to do so.

Fitzgerald has said it is the aim of the government to streamline the Direct Provision system, so cases are dealt with in a period of six months to a year.

“[The] system need to be more effective and efficient. Unlike the rest of Europe we have a very complicated system with many levels,” she said last week.

It followed the publication of a report by a working group into the asylum and protection processes offered in Ireland.

The report recommended that no one should spend more than five years in the system and new asylum seekers should have a decision on their application within 12 months.

The minister stated that extensive delays often arose due to a system that involves five layers of processing – creating the possibility for five judicial reviews. The aim is to cut this down to two, she said.

Read: People have lost years of their lives in Direct Provision – here is how it could end 

Read: Immigrants in Ireland are better educated than native-born nationals 

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