52. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to increase the resources needed for the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal to address the considerable backlog of applications present, before the applications are transferred to the new office of the chief international protection officer as part of the introduction of a single procedure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9212/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The International Protection Act was signed into law on 30th December 2015. It provides for a single application procedure which will streamline and significantly speed up the processing of protection applications in Ireland.
The commencement of the Act involves significant preparation work across a wide range of activities and the provision of staff resources for processing cases on hands as part of the transition phase prior to its commencement and the establishing of the single application system is just one of the factors involved. Other major work streams include the preparation of a significant volume of secondary legislation, the development of detailed new processes and procedures, the establishment of a new International Protection Office and an independent International Protection Appeals Tribunal, development of new Information Technology systems, training of staff, etc. Preparation work is continuing so that the provisions of the Act can be commenced as soon as possible.
With regard to staff resources, my Department is currently in the process of recruiting staff in a number of grades to meet demands across the asylum and wider immigration area. The majority of these appointments will be made by the end of May 2016. A significant number of these will support the processing of existing cases on hand in the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal with a view to reducing this caseload in so far as possible in advance of the commencement of the new Act. Any cases not finalised prior to commencement of the Act will be dealt with under the legislation's transitional provisions.