Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Deputy Jim O’Callaghan has criticised the Government’s failure to address the length of time people are waiting for a decision on their asylum applications.

As of the 1st November, there were 7,582 people availing of accommodation provided by the Immigration Service of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Figures from the Department of Justice and Equality show that 35% (2,665) of those living in direct provision have been there more than two years and 22% (1,649) have been there more than three years. 

Deputy O’Callaghan said: “The introduction of the International Protection Act 2015 streamlined the application process for the determination of protection applications. This should have resulted in significant reduction in the length of time people are spending the asylum process.

“Shorter processing times would have huge benefits for asylum seekers. Long periods of time spent in direct provision has untold consequences on those people seeking protection. It leaves them feeling disempowered and hampers their ability to fully integrate. Investing in attaining shorter processing times would also result in significant savings for the State. The Department is currently spending €500,000 per week on emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.”

The Legal Aid Board and the International Protection Office must be properly resourced to assist asylum seekers with their applications and to ensure those applications are processed without undue delay.

“I raised this issue with Minister Stanton last week. He advised that an applicant for asylum should expect to receive a decision within approximately 15 months. This needs to improve and in fact EU law sets, in principle, a 6-month time frame for the examination of applications. The number of applications for asylum rose by 53% in the first nine months of 2019. This will inevitably lead to even longer waiting times in the application process.

“The additional €1million allocated by Budget 2020 for “immigration service delivery” is totally insufficient,” concluded Deputy O’Callaghan.