Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says application process for international protection must be sped up

Pringle says application process for international protection must be sped up

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has called on Government to take on board the Irish Refugee Council’s recommendations for streamlining the application process for international protection.

Deputy Pringle raised the issue in the Dáil, during questions for the Minister for Justice.

Deputy Pringle said: “The department has outlined that they want to process applications within nine months, but what you fail to mention there is the median processing time for all cases processed to completion by the International Protection Office in Quarter 1, 2021, was 22.2 months. And 16.1 months for prioritised cases.”

That means a refugee who had to appeal an initial decision could potentially wait about three and a half years from the date of the application to approval that they can reunite with their families, he said.

Deputy Pringle said: “1,655 applicants were awaiting a decision of appeal as of February 2021, and in March 2021, 2,646 individuals were waiting between 12 and 24 months for the first instance decision and 1,345 individuals were waiting over 24 months. That’s the reality. And it’s not all down to the pandemic, either.”

The deputy urged the minister to take on board the report the Irish Refugee Council launched this week, Hanging on a Thread, Delays in the Irish Protection Process, and implement its recommendations on how to improve the application process.

He said the report noted that: “Four and a half years since the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 and the introduction of a single application procedure in 2017, the Irish system remains fraught with administrative delays and substantial backlog.”

The deputy said: “I think it’s important we should put the words of the people themselves on the record. For example: ‘I came to Ireland to seek protection, my problems are not listened to for 22 months.’ ‘I am so depressed and frustrated since I don’t have a legal stay here and have never had any interview since 2019 up to date.’

“That’s the reality of the situation that people are living under,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said: “The real world isn’t in the IPO office. The real world is in the asylum seekers who have to live under the system that we have in this State, and I think that’s what’s appalling. And for people to have to spend as long as they have spent trying to get their cases heard is wrong.”

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