Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the software changes introduced on 10 September 2018 to the INIS online booking system have been reviewed and evaluated; if they are proving successful in preventing other sites from harvesting appointments and then selling these appointments slots on for €20 to €30 each. [44603/18]
420. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 142 of 26 September 2018, if he will respond to issues raised in the media in relation to the INIS online appointment system for registrations (details supplied); the action he will take to address these problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45416/18]
442. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the illegal trade in INIS appointments booked online; and if so, the steps he is taking to prevent this. [45767/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 378, 420 and 442 together.
As outlined in responses to previous parliamentary questions, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department became aware in September of customers experiencing difficulties booking registration appointments. Some of these difficulties had arisen because third party agents had been able to secure multiple appointments through the use of automatic software.
A set of software fixes was introduced in mid-September to prevent this abuse of the system. As far as can be determined, this software update has been successful in preventing the block booking of appointments by third party agents. The system is being regularly monitored in this regard.
The period September to November is the busiest time for registrations with many student registrations in addition to the usual workload of the office. A number of measures have been taken to increase the capacity of the office, including the assignment of additional staff to the Registration Office, overtime and opening the office for registrations on most Saturdays and some Sundays. These measures are aimed at ensuring that as many appointments as possible are made available each day. INIS plans to continue these measures at least until December to ensure demand is met.
In that regard, I am advised that over 9,600 people were registered with INIS in Dublin in the month of October – up significantly on the September figure. I am further advised that to the end of October in excess of 67,000 persons have been registered this year in Dublin representing an increase of 7.5% on the same period for 2017. INIS expects to register over well over 80,000 people in Dublin this year.
Appointments are made available twice daily with over 400 per day released for booking. The system is being kept under review to address any abuses that may emerge.