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Call for Ireland to accept Brexit-delayed asylum applications that would otherwise be transferred to UK

A report by the Irish Refugee Council says Ireland has “typically chosen to follow the UK’s lead” on asylum issues.

A Dublin protest seeking an end to the Direct Provision system.
A Dublin protest seeking an end to the Direct Provision system.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE IRISH REFUGEE Council (IRC) says the State should consider taking on the asylum applications of people set to have their applications transferred to the UK, should these transfers be delayed in the context of Brexit.

The call was made in an IRC report which looked at how Ireland has been implementing EU rules in relation to asylum applications.

It concludes that Ireland is failing in its obligation to provide vulnerability assessments for people seeking asylum

The report also says that Ireland has “typically chosen to follow the UK’s lead” in adopting EU legislation on the asylum system but may need “a shift in approach” with Brexit on the horizon.

The group says Ireland will need to decide whether to “align more closely” with the Common European Asylum System and notes that it “remains to be seen” how the UK’s approach to asylum may change after Brexit. 

The IRC makes specific reference to potential issues with the transfer of the asylum applications to the UK, saying these could be delayed, leaving people in “legal limbo”.

Under the EU directive known as the Dublin III Regulation, an asylum application made in one member state can be transferred to another if it is deemed by a tribunal to be more appropriate in that jurisdiction. 

In its report, the IRC expresses concerns about the transfer of applications from Ireland to the UK after Brexit and says the Irish state should step in should there be any delays. 

“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, people in the Dublin system waiting to be transferred to the UK could face additional delays due to the inevitable legal uncertainty. In such a scenario, the IRC would call on Ireland to exercise its discretion under Article 17 of the Dublin Regulation to claim jurisdiction of an asylum claim for which the State might not otherwise be responsible under that directive,”

This would ensure that nobody is left in legal limbo as a result of the decision of the UK to exit the EU. 

Article 17 refers to the ability of member states to take on an international protection application lodged with another member state “on humanitarian and compassionate grounds”.

The provision is usually invoked to bring family members, relatives or others together. 

Vulnerability assessments

TheJournal.ie has previously outlined concerns surrounding a lack of vulnerability assessments available to people seeking asylum in Ireland.

The IRC’s report provides further clarity on this issue and says that no process has been put in place to ensure these kind of assessments take place.  

Vulnerability assessments are designed to identify an individual’s needs and therefore where they should be accommodated.

The assessments are required to take place within 30 days of an individual arriving and the IRC says this should not depend on someone displaying vulnerabilities when accessing other services.

“A voluntary medical screening is not the same as a vulnerability assessment which must be a formal, holistic process for assessing a person’s full psychosocial needs. Failure to create such an assessment is a clear breach of Irish and EU law,” according to IRC CEO Nick Henderson.

The IRC has also highlighted that 936 people seeking asylum are currently in emergency accommodation.

TheJournal.ie reported last week that the Department of Justice has paid nearly €7 million to private business owners running hotels and B&Bs providing accommodation to persons seeking asylum since September.

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Rónán Duffy

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