Numbers seeking international protection in Ireland in 2022 set to be highest in over 20 years

Almost 10,000 non-Ukrainian people sought asylum in Ireland in first nine months of the year

Almost 10,000 asylum seekers arrived into Ireland from countries other than Ukraine in the first nine months of 2022, the highest figure for such a period in the State for more than 20 years.

Figures disclosed by the Department of Justice show that 9,953 people sought international protection in Ireland between January and September this year, with a peak recorded in June of 1,605 applications.

If the trend continues on the current trajectory, the total for the entire year is likely to be between 13,000 and 14,000, which will surpass the previous records of just below 13,000 in 2001.

While the figure of applicants in September (1,061) was lower than in the previous five months, there were 342 applications in the first week of October also, suggesting that the numbers are not beginning to fall off.


The marked increase in the number of people seeking international protection – which is four times higher than the total for 2021 when international travel was restricted by the Covid pandemic – has occurred at a time when more than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have also come to Ireland to escape the war in their country.

Since February, a total of 52,547 refugees have arrived from Ukraine, 26,000 of whom arrived during March and April. The numbers had been gradually falling with 3,341 recorded in August. However, there has been an increase since then with 3,391 refugees arriving into Ireland in September, and as many as 4,000 expected in October.

More than a fifth of the non-Ukrainian people who have arrived in Ireland seeking international protection have been from Georgia, a country designated as a safe country of origin under the International Protection Act 2015. The country has also applied to be a candidate country for the European Union.

The former Fine Gael minister for justice Charles Flanagan has raised the issue of the high number of Georgians in the asylum system in Ireland: 2,550 of the 15,500 in International protection accommodation in Ireland are from that country.

Mr Flanagan said this week the number seeking protection from Georgia was a matter of concern given that the country was working steadily towards EU candidate status.

“It’s remarkable that there’s such a steady flow of predominantly able-bodied males from Georgia to Ireland,” he said.

The next highest nationality group is from Somalia, with almost 1,500 applications so far this year. There has been more than 1,000 applications from Algeria, with Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Afghanistan the countries with the next highest numbers of applicants.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman this week warned the Citywest reception facility is now near capacity and, if alternatives are not found, a “pause” will have to be considered in taking new arrivals there.

That has occurred twice this year already in July and September when people arriving into Ireland were forced to sleep overnight in Dublin Airport, and were told to find their own accommodation, with some having no choice but to sleep on the streets.

It is understood that as many as 800 people are now staying at Citywest.

The Department of Justice has resumed deportations at a modest scale after a hiatus of three years, because of the Covid pandemic. A small number of people have been deported on scheduled flights.

Before the suspension, 200 people were deported from Ireland in 2019.

New regulations to fast-track the application process for people from “safe countries” (reducing the time span from two years to two months) will be put into operation within the next few months, it is understood.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times