Delays | 

Irish Refugee Council says it needs more staff to process increased number of applications

Ms Mannion said that some countries are deemed by Ireland to be “safe” territories and asylum seekers from those areas are likely to be processed extremely quickly

(Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The Irish Refugee Council has said that it needs more staff to process the increased number of applications and appeals from asylum seekers.

Managing Solicitor Katie Mannion said that the council is “really concerned” about the number of asylum applications that may be rejected if the Government decides to use a fast-track system, RTÉ reports.

This means more appeals will need to be processed, putting further pressure on the council, which has seen its staff numbers drop by 8pc since 2019.

Ms Mannion also said the council is worried that international protection applicants are now being asked to fill out their forms, which are in English and not their native language, within a day.

They had previously been given several weeks to seek legal advice and fill out the questionnaire. She said if they do not have this advice the applicants might not fully understand the process.

Ms Mannion said that some countries are deemed by Ireland to be “safe” territories and asylum seekers from those areas are likely to be processed extremely quickly.

She explained that they are given a date for an interview on the same day they apply for asylum protection and that could be as soon as two weeks.

“We are really concerned about that step,” she said.

“They may not be able to access legal advice in that time.”

In a statement, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council Nick Henderson acknowledged that the council is experiencing “chronic delays” in processing international protection applications but added that it “can take time” as each case is “individual”.

“That changes introduced in November at the International Protection Office reduce or remove access to legal advice for protection applicants at the beginning of their application,” he said.

“We warn against replacing delays with fast-track decision making that doesn't consider a person's individual circumstances.”

It comes after gardaí said they are well prepared for an anti-immigration protest and a pro-refugee solidarity gathering due to take place in Dublin today.

A Garda spokesperson stated they are "aware" of the "potential" protests due to take place in the capital.

“An Garda Síochána will have an appropriate and proportionate policing plan in place,” they added.

The Irish Freedom Party is organising the anti-immigration protest at Connolly Station in Dublin at 2pm.

However, Sinn Féin has urged the public to attend a counter movement at the GPO if they want to voice their concerns.

Le Cheile, a cross-sectoral alliance, which says it is working against the far right in Ireland, is inviting the public to attend the pro-refugee gathering at the GPO at 1.30pm.

Donaghmede Sinn Féin councillor Mr MacDonncha told the Irish Independent: “We are hearing of splits, tensions and rivalries between the far right groups, the National Party and the Freedom Party and protesters. The protesters in East Wall and North Strand, would not be aligned to the Freedom Party.

“However, it’s very difficult to know what numbers will be there. It seems the larger numbers in communities don’t go to the city marches.

“In the past couple of weeks, it seems this hysteria about alleged crimes carried out by asylum seekers, have been made up, they didn’t happen at all.

“Asylum seekers are being blamed for attacks on women. The far right have really ramped it up, they’re trying to bring people out through fear tactics.

“It’s impossible to say the numbers who will be at the Connolly Station protest but we encourage a solidarity gathering with refugees at 1.30pm with community groups.”

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