354. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if asylum seekers in temporary accommodation are supported to begin the process of applying for refugee status; the average waiting time for process by the RIA of new applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28279/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I can advise the Deputy that the State provides support for all protection applicants in making an application for international protection, regardless of their place of residence. There are specific arrangements for unaccompanied minors who are in the care of Tusla who make an application on their behalf.
Applicants are required to attend for preliminary interview with staff of the International Protection Office (IPO). During this interview the applicant will, where necessary and possible, have the assistance of an interpreter. If the person's application is deemed to be admissible, the person is given a questionnaire to complete. All applicants are entitled to free legal aid from the Refugee Legal Service, once they have made an initial application. The applicant will then have a substantive interview after submitting a completed questionnaire to the IPO. The applicant will have the benefit of an interpreter to ensure they can ably communicate their claim to the interviewer.