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direct provision

'Dismay' as asylum seekers now waiting over two years for claims to be processed

Protection applicants are waiting almost 27 months for a decision on their application.

ASYLUM SEEKERS ARE facing over two years for international protection applications to be processed despite a State commitment to cut delays to nine months.

The latest figures from the Department of Justice show that protection applicants are waiting almost 27 months for a decision on their application. Priority cases are currently waiting 19.5 months.

It comes after the Irish Refugee Council last month called for a “drastic reset” of the country’s asylum system which “remains fraught with administrative delays and substantial backlog”. 

The White Paper for ending Ireland’s Direct Provision system committed to reducing decision times down to nine months and then cut it further to no longer than six months by 2024. 

Speaking to The Journal in May, Minister Roderic O’Gorman said the proposed system to replace Direct Provision “won’t work unless processing times get significantly shorter.”

Justice Minister Helen McEntee warned in January 2021 that efforts to improve processing times had been “seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

There are more than 8,200 adults and children living in Direct Provision and emergency accommodation centres. 

One testimony included in a Refugee Council report last month said: “It’s as if our souls have been ripped out, living in limbo for five years. It’s not right and fair.”

Another said their future was “basically hanging on a thread”.

The council’s report called on the Government to immediately introduce a once-off amnesty for people to remain in Ireland for up to five years if they’ve been living in the system for more than two years. 

The recommendation was first contained in a report by an Expert Advisory Group chaired by Dr Catherine Day but was not adopted as part of the Government’s White Paper. 

Cork-based migrant rights NGO Nasc said it is “dismayed” to see that delays in processing applications continue to grow and called for the once-off amnesty to be implemented. 

“Far from making progress, the median processing times for a first instance decision have actually increased by over 4 months from 22.2 months in Quarter 1 to 26.9 months in Quarter 2,” said Nasc CEO Fiona Finn. 

“These delays not only have consequences for the 4,000 individuals and families whose lives are in limbo for over two years while they await a decision, but they also undermine efforts to end Direct Provision.

“The alternative reception system set out in the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision is based on a functioning refugee status determination process with an estimated throughput of 3,500 cases per year and average processing times of 6 months. At our current figures it is difficult to see how this will be achieved by 2024,” said Finn. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice & Equality said it is “committed” to reducing processing times in line with the White Paper. 

“Additional ICT resources have been secured for this year, and detailed practical work, including the end-to-end review of relevant international protection processes by a multi-disciplinary team from within the Department, is currently being completed,” they said. 

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