20 February 2015
A new AIDA update on asylum in Ireland highlights, among other new findings, the need for and progress towards a reform of Direct Provision, the reception system in Ireland providing accommodation for asylum seekers and prohibiting asylum seekers from working.
The momentum for change in Direct Provision has continued to grow in Ireland. The official Government Priorities for 2014 to 2016 included an explicit commitment to address the current reception system and an independent working group was established in October 2014 to focus on respecting the dignity and improving the quality of life of applicants for international protection within the protection process in Ireland. The group is due to report to the government with its recommendations by Easter 2015.
In November 2014, an Irish High Court judgment found that certain aspects of the house rules in reception centres were unlawful or disproportionate to the objective achieved. The complaints mechanism was also found to be flawed due to its lack of independence.
The report by the Irish Refugee Council also states that an upcoming International Protection Bill will aim to speed up and simplify the process of claiming asylum in Ireland in order to end the structural delays in the existing asylum system.
In light of the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in H.N. v the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the matter, changes will soon be introduced to legislation so that asylum seekers are able to apply for subsidiary protection at the same time as their application for refugee status is being handled. The claim for subsidiary protection, a complementary form of protection that applies to those fleeing war, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, will however, only be investigated should the applicant’s application for refugee status be refused.
Figures from the report show that in 2014, 1,444 asylum applications were received by Ireland, 53% more than in 2013. The top three countries of applications in 2014 were Pakistan, Nigeria and Albania. Ireland accepted 90 Syrian refugees in 2014 under the UNHCR resettlement programme. Moreover, in December 2014 it was announced that a total of 111 vulnerable people from Syria and the surrounding region were granted admission to reside in Ireland following applications submitted by relatives already resident in Ireland.
The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is an ECRE project designed to map asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention in Europe. The database covers 16 EU countries, and will soon be enlarged to include Switzerland and Turkey.
This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 February 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.