Sunday 4 December 2016

Ireland refuses asylum to 90pc of applicants

New systems are also making the process of appeal more difficult for asylum-seekers

Published 20/11/2016 | 02:30

In the 12 months to the end of June this year, Ireland received less than 10pc of asylum applicants to similar-sized EU states. Photo: PA Stock
In the 12 months to the end of June this year, Ireland received less than 10pc of asylum applicants to similar-sized EU states. Photo: PA Stock

For a country that once boasted the '100,000 welcomes' to visitors, Ireland has become the least welcoming country in western Europe for refugees.

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Latest figures from the EU agency, Eurostat, shows Ireland at the bottom of the league for accepting refugees.

Ireland may also have the highest level of refusals for asylum seekers in the EU, turning down more than 90pc of those who arrived here seeking refuge, the figures show.

In the 12 months to the end of June this year, Ireland received less than 10pc of asylum applicants to similar-sized EU states. Denmark, with a population of 5.4m, accepted 21,000 asylum applicants; Norway, with a population of 5m, accepted 28,000 applicants. Ireland is recorded by Eurostat as receiving only 2,780 applicants during the 12-month period to June this year.

Figures from the Department of Justice revealed that of a total of 1,552 applications for asylum to the Office of Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) in 2015, only 9.8pc were granted leave to remain. The Department of Justice is also steadily closing down appeal avenues for asylum seekers, increasingly preventing them from seeking judicial reviews of their refusals, sources say.

New systems which are being put in place are making the process of applying for refugee status, and of appealing rejection, harder and harder.

Asylum seekers are now believed to be avoiding Ireland since anti-immigration measures began to be introduced in the wake of the 2002 influx of 12,000 asylum seekers, the highest annual number of immigrants in the State's history.

Ireland would also appear to be, statistically, ahead of other EU countries when it comes to deporting illegal aliens. Last year the State deported 3,500 people with the figure for this year expected to increase to around 4,000, about double the 2012 figure for deportations, according to figures supplied to the Dail by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

About 10pc cent of those facing deportation are arrested and forcibly deported by gardai with more forced deportations signed by Minister Fitzgerald in the first half of this year than in 2015.

According to immigrant support groups, Ireland is not meeting its commitment to take in 4,000 Syrian refugees as part of the EU-agreed 'relocation programme'. Up to July this year, according to official figures, only 38 Syrian refugees had been relocated to Ireland.

The result, politically, is that the Irish Government is one of the few in Europe not facing the same type of electoral revolt that saw Britain vote itself out of the EU and America electing Donald Trump with his promise of mass deportations.

Ireland, in the view of one legal source involved in the asylum process, is "the example that other European countries want to emulate".

Following Brexit, other heads of European states are facing a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment that could see several governments, including those of France, Germany, Austria and Greece, toppled as voters turn to more 'right-wing' parties.

A poll taken by Red C for Newstalk in February this year over Irish attitudes to the Government's proposal to take in 4,000 Syria refugees underlined how divided public attitudes are.

While a majority (67pc) supported the commitment to take in 4,000 refugees, a third thought the figure too high and 68pc believed refugees should not be entitled to social welfare. And, almost half of those polled (49pc) felt that taking in this number of Syrians would result in 'increased crime'.

Under new systems of asylum application here, immigrants face more prolonged procedures while they are accommodated along with the 5,000 still in 'direct provision' hostels around the country, many being prevented from working and subsisting on the €19 per week 'supplement'.

A considerable number facing deportation include those from persecuted minorities such as the Ahmadi and Sufi religions.

Earlier this month more than 50 Sufis were killed in an Islamic suicide bomb attack in Pakistan.

Sunday Independent

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