International Protection Bill 2015 Second Stage – Dáil Éireann

International Protection Bill 2015 Second Stage – Dáil Éireann

Introduction

Ceann Comhairle, Deputies and concerned members of the public in attendance today,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to introduce the International Protection Bill 2015 to this House and I look forward to engaging with Deputies as we progress the Bill through the various stages.

I would also like to thank the members of both Houses who contributed to the pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Bill by the Joint Oireachtas Committee of Justice, Defence and Equality, which issued an interim report in July.

Purpose of the Bill

The principal purpose of the International Protection Bill is to reform the system for determining applications for international protection in Ireland through the introduction of a single applications procedure.

This delivers on the commitment given in the Statement of Government Priorities 2014-2016:

‘to legislate to reduce the length of time the asylum applicant spends in the asylum determination system and consequently in Direct Provision through the establishment of a single applications procedure’.

The Government has, therefore, singled out this aspect of our immigration and asylum system and given it special priority so that it can be addressed with specific and timely focus under today’s Bill.

It is also intended that the Bill will be in compliance with the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and with the related EU Directives on asylum procedures and qualification into which Ireland has opted.

Working Group on the Protection Process

The publication of the Bill and its early enactment and implementation is also a key recommendation of the Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers which was published on 30 June 2015. The Bill does not stray into other areas which have featured in commentary, such as Direct Provision. These matters are on the agenda of the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy.

The Government in addressing this unacceptable lengthy delay in processing applications, is fast tracking this Bill to end the experience of people who come to Ireland seeking protection and who end up in a long term limbo.

Indeed, the Bill now responds to 26 of the Working Group’s 78 specific recommendations in the area of the Protection Process. An analysis of these specific recommendations is available to Deputies.

The Bill mitigates many more of the Report’s recommendations and what gave cause to them. By addressing the length of time, the Bill for example, ensures that a speedy grant of status, where merited will address many of the demands for applicants delayed by a slow decision making process.

Amendments were tabled in Seanad Eireann looking for the right to work to be acknowledged after an applicant passes a period of nine months awaiting a decision. This intention under this Bill, when successfully implemented will be to deliver that decision within six months with people granted status being allowed to work

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