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Bundle all immigration services into one unit – Justice report
Pic:RollingNews.ie

22 Jul 2019 / justice Print

Bundle immigrant services in one unit – Justice report

All immigration services should be bundled into a new Department of Justice and Equality unit, according to a new high-level report.

The fourth report of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group (ERG) for the department says that the Reception and Integration Agency, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and the Refugees Protection Programme should all be streamlined into a separate in-house unit called Immigration Service Delivery.

Functional elements

The report says that the move will separate the functional elements of immigration, such as policy, legislation, governance and transparency, from service delivery.

The ERG is led by Pádraig O Ríordáin, a former managing partner at Arthur Cox and board member with Paddy Power.

This combined unit is to sit in the Civil Justice and Equality division of the department.

As part of the department’s transformation, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has approved funding for the appointment one more Assistant Secretary and two Directors, to proceed through the Top-Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) and the Public Appointments Service (PAS) process.

This is expected to take a further four months. The current secretary general is Aidan O’Driscoll (pictured).

'Point of jeopardy'

The report warns that this is a ‘point of jeopardy’ in the transformation process as it means that some new functions will be designed, built, staffed and even implemented in the absence of the person who will lead them.

With an entirely new structure, team and function, this attracts “real risk”, the report says.

It urges expedition of the remaining appointments to minimise this risk.

No precedent for scale of change

The report notes that there is no single international precedent for the scale and nature of the fundamental change being undertaken in the department.

Two ministerial liaison officers have been in position since September 2018, to keep the justice minister Charlie Flanagan (pictured) informed and fully briefed with information required, in particular, for Dáil questions.

From September, the department will occupy the front block of 52 St Stephen’s Green with the remainder of the building taken over at a later stage following renovation works.

The department is currently split across numerous locations which the report flags as a difficulty in implementing change.

Transparency units

The first report of the ERG proposed two separate ‘transparency units’ for both divisions of the department, each to be autonomous.

The department has responded that due to the complexity of current information management and deployment systems, it was better to start with one transparency function.

Large service delivery areas such as the Prison Service, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and the Probation Service will continue as separate non-statutory agencies.

Operations function

Smaller areas of service delivery which do not warrant separate governance structures will be integrated into the operations function of the ‘criminal law’ and ‘civil law and equality’ functions.

Department staff have been kept informed about the planned changes and what they will mean in terms of roles and career prospects.

A bespoke learning and development programme is also being rolled out to staff ahead of the proposed changes.

 

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