Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Somalia & Eritrea are being granted refugee status in Ireland without requiring any interview process.
Can you guess the country of origin for the largest group seeking asylum in Ireland currently?
As part of the International Protection Act 2015, The Department of Justice allowed for officers working at the International Protection Office (IPO) the option to dispense with the interview process and automatically grant asylum seekers refugee status.
Above is an Irish delegation member explaining this ability to the UN’s ICCPR conference on July 4th 2022. The delegate suggests it is only within the last year this power to dispense with the interview process has been used to any significant degree. He says the asylum seekers who are allowed to forego the normal application process are carefully selected and the reason the IPO started doing it is to make the application process more efficient.
But what does “carefully” mean?
In February of this year, the Business Post reported that the IPO had in recent months been increasing the number of cases being allowed to proceed without an interview, with applicants from countries including Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea being told they were to be granted refugee status by virtue of their country of origin. Notice they said “including” so there must be other countries too.
This is how the Department of Justice were reported as justifying it:
By applying that principle to those countries “it would be highly unlikely that a person would be deported,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said.
“The objective of the IPO is to have recommendations made on international protection applications as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman said.
‘This ensures that those who are found to be in need of protection from the state can receive it quickly and begin rebuilding their lives here with a sense of safety and security,” the spokeswoman said.
Lobby groups are constantly pressuring the government to reduce processing times for asylum seekers. According to the Business Post it was the Irish Refugee Council who called for the IPO to make greater use of the powers to dispense with personal interviews. Their chief executive Nick Henderson was quoted as saying he now welcomed greater use of this power given the backlog in cases.
“It gives protection to people who need it more quickly and contributes to reducing delays and the considerable backlog of cases at the International Protection Office,” he said. Minister Helen McEntee had already issued a blanket amnesty to all asylum seekers who had been in the country for two years to clear the backlog in January.
In the video below you can hear a delegate from the Department of Justice telling the UN earlier this month that the median time it takes for an asylum seeker to appeal their rejected asylum application was 7.5 months in 2019. In 2020, it was 9 months and in 2021 it was 13.5 months. The Catherine Day report wants to get that reduced to 6 months. The delegate explains that the processing time went up during the lockdown as it wasn’t possible to hold in person interviews.
So perhaps because they’re under pressure to reduce processing times again, they’ve decided to grant asylum seekers from certain countries refugee status in bulk.
Could this explain why in May this year, there were 1,540 first-time asylum applications made in Ireland — the highest monthly number on record. Minister Roderic O’Gorman has stated that he expects up to 15,000 non-Ukraine related asylum seekers to arrive in Ireland this year — the highest since 2002. The numbers arriving pre-covid were averaging 3,300 per annum with the commitment to end the direct provision system were based on this figure.
When a person requests asylum in Ireland, the first thing they’re given is application form to fill in. Then they’re queued for a round of interviews which officials at the IPO use to check their story out and make a judgment call on their claim for asylum. Up to 90% asylum seekers get rejected during this process. Their claims don’t meet criteria for refugee status or are considered bogus. Then they appeal the decision and end up rarely being deported anyway.
The preliminary interview is supposed to establish:
(a) the identity of the person,
(b) the nationality of the person,
(c) the country of origin of the person,
(d) the route travelled by the person to the State, the means of transport used and details of any person who assisted the person in travelling to the State,
(e) the reason why the person came to the State,
(f) the legal basis for the entry into or presence in the State of the person.
So for Somalians, Afghans and Eritreans, the Dept. of Justice has decided it’s not interested in ascertaining any of these details. An asylum seeker could have forged a new identity — maybe they’re the warlord who has been chopping heads off and are fleeing retribution for their crimes. Nobody cares to find out. They won’t be going home.
Instead they just have to be patient while Roderic O’Gorman fulfils his promise to provide them their own forever homes within 4 months and while they’re waiting they can get busy filling in the family reunification form. Then in a few short years the Dept. of Justice can post the whole family out their invitation to the latest citizenship ceremony once they’ve joined them.
Is it any wonder Somalians are now the largest group of asylum seekers arriving on these shores?
The IPO only have statistics for asylum applications up to March listed on their website.
They say 805 Somalians filed an application for asylum in the first three months of this year.
Last year for the same three months, that figure was 51.
In 2019 & 2018, if any Somalians claimed asylum, the number was so small, the IPO didn’t list it. This is a new trend.
It would appear that word has gotten out in Somalia.
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