New rules to speed up deportations
Review of immigration system aims to tackle abuse of asylum process and cut costs
From The Sunday Times
April 11, 2009
The Department of Justice plans to introduce rules that will allow the state to deport failed asylum seekers even if they have launched legal appeals against their removal.
The measure is the result of a review of Irelands immigration system, which aims to speed up deportations and restrict court access for foreign nationals claiming asylum.
Dermot Ahern, the justice minister, also plans to limit services available to immigrants denied residency here, which would make it more difficult for them to continue to live in the country if they took further legal action.
The review will not change some aspects of the asylum process. Immigrants who fail to qualify for refugee status will still not be allowed to work or claim benefits. The government will continue to provide them with accommodation, allowances and medical care until they are repatriated.
The department hopes the new processes will reduce abuses of the asylum process and the legal costs of fighting what officials regard as spurious appeals. The justice department spent 12.3m defending 651 legal actions by asylum-seekers between 2001 and 2008. The average cost of defending each case was 18,910.
The Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC), a branch of the department that considers asylum applications, has spent 3.32m on 1,012 cases since 2005. The Refugee Appeals Tribunal, which hears appeals from asylum seekers whose applications were turned down by ORAC, spent 13.8m defending 1,480 judicial reviews of its decisions in the same period.
An official source said: The state believes it would be better for all concerned if asylum claims were dealt with as quickly as possible. The proposed new system will ensure that immigrants, especially young children, who are not entitled to political asylum, dont settle into an Irish way of life and set up home, as this can pose all sorts of problems if they have to be deported at a later date.
The measures, likely to come into force this year, will still allow the justice minister to issue residency permits on discretionary grounds.
A spokesman for Ahern said: It will ensure that applicants receive a quick and comprehensive answer to the question can I stay?