International Protection Bill 2015 published

20 Nov 2015

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, published the text of the International Protection Bill 2015.  It is envisaged by the Minister that the Bill will be enacted by the Government and the Oireachtas by the end of this year.  

The published Bill provides for legislative change to introduce a single procedure for international protection applications and proposes change to procedures which aim to reduce the length of time asylum applicants spend in the protection process, including the direct provision system.

Main proposals / Key points of the International Protection Bill (2015):

  • Reform of the system for determining applications for international protection in Ireland through the introduction of a single application procedure.
  • Under the proposed single procedure, an applicant will make one application, and will have all grounds for seeking international protection and to be permitted to remain in the State examined and determined in one process.
  • The Bill will comply with the United Nations Convention regarding the status of Refugees and related EU Directives on asylum procedures and qualification into which Ireland has opted.  
  • International protection can be granted either:
    • as a person who is eligible for refugee protection on the basis of a well-founded fear of persecution in the country of origin, or
    • as a person who is eligible for subsidiary protection on the basis of a real risk of suffering serious harm if returned to the country of origin.  
  • A dedicated unit of the Department of Justice and Equality, a ‘Protection Office’ will be the determining authority at first instance for applications for international protection, replacing the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC).
    • The authorised case officers making decisions under the new structure will continue to be the same staff as in the ORAC and are specialists in the processing of protection cases trained to UNHCR standards.  
    • The establishment of a new ‘Protection Office’ will allow for the examination of an application to include grounds which would not currently be within the statutory jurisdiction of the ORAC, for example those arising from the European Convention on Human Rights.  
  • In the case of an applicant being refused international protection, a decision will be made as to whether the applicant should be given a permission to remain in the State having regard to the applicant’s family and personal circumstances and his or her right to respect for his or her family life.
  • A newly constituted and independent appeals body, The International Protection Appeals Tribunal will replace the current Refugee Appeals Tribunal, providing for an effective remedy against a decision on an application for international protection including a refusal of refugee status or subsidiary protection at first instance.  
  • The International Protection Bill 2015 will introduce a single legislative instrument for the asylum system in Ireland thereby replacing the current more cumbersome framework which is based on the Refugee Act 1996 as significantly amended, and various regulations made between 2006 and 2015 under section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972.

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