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Extra staff to speed up asylum-seeker process
Pic: RollingNews.ie

06 Jul 2023 / justice Print

Extra staff to speed up asylum-seeker process

The Department of Justice has published a plan for changes aimed at speeding up decisions on those applying for international protection in Ireland.

A modernisation programme covering this year and next year has set a new target of 1,000 first-instance decisions a month by spring 2024.

“While this goal is ambitious, and is well in excess of the target of 290 per month set out in the Catherine Day report, significant progress towards this objective is already being made, with 750 first-instance decisions per month being reached in June this year,” said Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

A board, headed by a senior official at the department, will oversee the modernisation programme, while €17.7 million has been allocated for the plan.

Staff numbers up 66%

More than €10 million of this will go towards the recruitment of new staff.
The department says that staff numbers have already risen by 66% since December last year, to 344, and that this figure will increase to 430 by the end of the year.

The programme includes increased training for staff, and quality-control support from the UNHCR.

Additional resources are also being allocated to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, to help it deal with an increased caseload.

‘Safe’ countries

The department states that the number of people arriving from countries designated as ‘safe’ has fallen sharply – from 210 in November to 64 in May.

Last November, accelerated procedures for those arriving from safe countries were introduced. The department says that these have reduced the timescale for first-instance decisions in such cases from 17-24 months last year to within three months.

The median processing time for all cases processed to completion in the first three months of 2023 stands at 10 months, down from a norm of 22-26 months earlier in the year.

Waiting times

Figures from the department show that the International Protection Office (IPO) is currently processing 15,568 cases, the vast majority of which were received in 2022.

92% of cases decided in 2022 were processed in three years or less, and 62% of cases decided in 2022 were processed in two years or less.

Currently fewer than 5% of people are waiting over two years for a decision – mainly for reasons not in the IPO’s control, according to the department.

Gazette Desk
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