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Surge in asylum applications? That's 'ridiculous' says Ó Riordáin

The Minister of State talked about the working group that’s tasked with suggesting how to reform the current system.

Aodhan O Riordain TD
Aodhan O Riordain TD
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

SUGGESTIONS THAT THERE has been a surge in asylum applications is “ridiculous”, Minister of State Aodhan Ó Riordáin said today.

Speaking on This Week on RTÉ radio, he said that while the highest figure of asylum applications – 11,634 – was recorded in 2002, last year that figure reduced to 946.

“So the suggestion there is a surge in applications is plainly ridiculous in my view,” he said.

A report in today’s Sunday Times said that there has been a 40% increase in the number of people claiming political asylum so far this year.

Ó Riordáin said that applications are in line with what is happening in Europe.

Working group to reform system

The Labour TD said that he won’t be halted in his work in reforming the Direct Provision system, and shed more light on what a working group will be doing.

O Riordáin said the group will report to him and the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, and they will then bring the proposals to Government on that basis.

He said that it is hoped to bring in a single-procedure mechanism for Direct Provision, hopefully next Easter.

This will speed up the process for new applications, giving a six-month turnaround rather than it taking up to 10 years.

“Intolerable”

He described having a situation “where people can be languishing in a Direct Provision centre for 10 years” as “absolutely intolerable”.

We have to change that.

Asked about the possibility of a one-off amnesty for existing asylum seekers after the changes come in, the TD said that he didn’t think this would happen, but he couldn’t be sure, and he doesn’t want to pre-empt the work of working groups.

An appeals system would still be included in the new three-step (instead of five-step) system, and the courts would still be open to asylum seekers.

He said that there must be ways to make people’s stay in Direct Provision centres “more humane”.

O Riordáin said he is not an apologist for the current Direct Provision system, and that he wants to reform it.

Asked about the suggestion of abuse of the asylum system, O Riordáin said that “if that exists then we’re going to find out about it” through the working group’s work.

Read: New laws will see asylum seekers spend less time in Direct Provision>

Read: Ireland spending €150 million a year on asylum system>

Read: The government is going to review the way Ireland treats asylum seekers >

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