Asylum request rejections 'too high'


IRELAND’S LOW rate of acceptance of asylum applications largely explains the continuing drop in asylum seekers coming here in recent years, according to advocacy groups.

Responding to figures which show asylum applications fell by one-third last year, the Irish Refugee Council and the Spiritan Asylum Service Initiative (Spirasi) called on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to improve conditions for the 5,400 asylum seekers awaiting decisions.

The council urged the Minister to focus on fair and efficient decision-making procedures and to introduce a robust and independent appeals process as part of reforms of the asylum and immigration system.

It criticised the absence of proposals to deal with delays and low acceptance rates in the asylum system outlined in Mr Shatter’s latest statement.

Chief executive Sue Conlan said the rate of acceptance of asylum applications increased to 3.27 per cent last year but this was “far behind” our European neighbours. “The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill will not resolve the problems of poor quality decision-making and delay, which have made the immigration and asylum systems costly in financial and human terms. These can only be addressed by placing the emphasis on supporting strong initial applications with legal advice and by introducing an effective independent appeal that would alleviate the need for recourse to expensive judicial reviews.”

Spirasi chief executive Greg Straton called the Minister’s statement a “missed opportunity” for asylum reform. He called for measures to improve the situation of asylum seekers living in direct provision and an independent review process. The cost of direct provision was €67 million a year but the State would spend €100 million defending asylum claims in the High Court, he claimed.

He added: “We are dismayed that the asylum seekers continue to receive special attention by the media and continue to be seen as purely economic migrants abusing the protection process.”