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Cabinet backs change to asylum legislation
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (Pic: RollingNews.ie

30 Apr 2024 / justice Print

Cabinet backs change to asylum legislation

The Government has approved legislative proposals that would allow Ireland to resume returning inadmissible international-protection applicants to the UK.

There has been an arrangement on returns in place between Ireland and the UK since Brexit, which was agreed in November 2020.

In March 2024, however, the High Court found that the statutory scheme used to designate a safe third country under section 72A of the International Protection Act 2015 was legally flawed.

The court found that the scheme failed to require the Minister for Justice to be satisfied that a person would not be subjected to serious harm when returned to that country.

2015 act

This was one of several cases taken by individuals challenging their return to the UK after removals had resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Justice said that the practical effect of this judgment was that the State had been unable to return people to the UK in cases where the UK was deemed to be the appropriate country to process any application for protection.

The legislative proposals agreed by Cabinet today (30 April) will amend the 2015 act to enable Ireland to resume the returns to the UK.

‘Serious harm’ provision

The proposals insert provision for consideration of serious harm to take place under section 21, section 50A, and section 72A of the act.

They will also allow for family and private-life rights to be considered in the context of issuing a return order under section 50A.

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that the arrangement that had been in place since Brexit was a reciprocal arrangement, “to ensure that neither of our countries are a place for people to evade or obstruct the immigration controls and processes of the other”.

“The legislative changes that I will bring to the Houses [of the Oireachtas] in the coming weeks will ensure that the arrangement can be operationalised,” she added.

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