Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action he is taking to address the inadequacies and loopholes which exist in legislation governing the immigration system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5297/18]
87. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to prepare and issue a White Paper to provide an overview of the entirety of the immigration laws and to identify the way in which the immigration system can be improved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5298/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 87 together.
By any standard Ireland operates an open immigration policy which often requires a flexible approach to respond to various requirements and needs.
The Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment to work with the relevant Oireachtas Committees to introduce a comprehensive Immigration and Residency Reform Bill. Work on such a Bill has not yet commenced, given other legislative priorities, but the intention remains that it will be progressed in line with the legislative priorities identified by Government. The development and promulgation of this legislation will provide a valuable opportunity for the engagement of all interested parties on our wider immigration system.
While work on this particular legislation has not progressed, that is not to say that there has been no reform of our protection and immigration systems. The last number of years has witnessed a broad range of reforms, many of which followed public consultation or other open forms of engagement with stakeholders and actors. Examples of recent immigration reforms include the following:
- The enactment of the International Protection Act 2015
- The Migrant Integration Strategy published in February 2017
- Regulatory Reforms of the International Education Sector and Student Immigration in 2011, 2014, and 2017
- The Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification published in December 2013
- The civilianisation of border management at Dublin Airport beginning in 2014 and immigration registration in the Dublin Metropolitan District in 2016
- The introduction of an online appointment booking system for registration and visas introduced in 2015
- The Introduction of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme in response to the EU migration crisis
- Expansion of the Immigrant Investor Programme
- Introduction of the Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme and British Irish Visa Scheme
- Introduction of citizenship ceremonies with over 110,000 new citizenship certificates conferred since 2011.
All of the above point to a dynamic immigration service that is actively seeking to respond to the needs of its customers. Question No. 83 answered with Question No. 79.