Check Against Delivery


SEANAD ADJOURNMENT 3RD OCTOBER 2013


Go dtabharfaidh an tAire Dlí, Comhionannas & Cosanta soiléiriú maidir le stádas an Bille Inimirce, agus Cosanta 2010.

That the Minister for Justice and Equality give an update on the status of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh
         
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Speech by Minister of State, John Perry, TD, on behalf of Alan Shatter, TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 has been restored to the Dáil Order paper for Committee Stage. The Bill replaces law dating from 1935 – notably, the Aliens Act - and provides a single code of law on entry into, and presence in the State, of foreign nationals. It will make the management and administration of the asylum and immigration system more efficient, effective and economic and will reflect current policy in the Programme for Government which undertakes to "… introduce comprehensive reforms of the immigration, residency and asylum systems, which will include a statutory appeals system and set out rights and obligations in a transparent way." 

In relation to the  Bill, Minister Shatter has outlined previously to the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, his considered view that, instead of engaging in an extremely cumbersome process of tabling hundreds of changes to the 2010 text, it would be much more efficient to publish a new and enhanced Bill.  This proposition was broadly welcomed by the Joint Committee.

Work on the Bill continues, therefore, on that basis, including in cooperation with the Offices of Parliamentary Counsel and of the Attorney General while also taking account of any relevant rulings by the Courts. By necessity work on the competing legislative priorities of the EU/IMF/ECB Troika programme such as the establishment of the Insolvency Service and the new Legal Services Regulation Bill has had to be completed. Nonetheless, Minister Shatter would expect that work on the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill will be advanced for publication in the new year.

While recognising the importance of setting out a modern and coherent legislative framework for dealing with immigration matters, Minister Shatter has identified some key issues that cannot be left in abeyance and require immediate action. Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing in the area of international protection Minister Shatter will, therefore, be introducing new arrangements by way of secondary legislation under the European Communities Act 1972 for the processing of subsidiary protection applications. The legislative provisions to underpin the new system for determining applications for subsidiary protection are currently being finalised in Minister Shatter’s Department in cooperation with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government.  When these legislative provisions are settled, the intention is to bring the new applications processing arrangements into operation as soon as possible. 

The new arrangements will introduce significant changes in the area of subsidiary protection applications processing, involving as they do, the transfer from the Department of Justice and Equality to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner of responsibility for processing such applications at first instance, with the availability of an appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in respect of negative first instance decisions.  Both of these bodies are independent in the exercise of their statutory functions.

In contrast with the current system which is entirely paper based, the new arrangements will, among other things, provide for personal interviews at first instance with the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the right to an oral appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.  These new arrangements will apply to cases currently on hand and to new subsidiary protection applications.  All applicants will be notified of the new procedures and the arrangements for the processing of their applications.  It will be appreciated that the extent of the changes proposed, involving as they do, jurisdictional changes for the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, require detailed planning, human resources redistribution and training, if there is to be an effective and efficient implementation of the new arrangements. 

Following on from the introduction of the new subsidiary protection system, the possibility of introducing a single protection procedure in advance of that proposed under the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill will be kept under review.

ENDS