347. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Justice the current position in respect of the offices which were acquired by her Department in Cork city and county over two years ago to facilitate asylum applications; the reason the facility has not opened; when the premises are likely to be brought into use; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48893/21]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): In early 2019 the International Protection Office began exploring options to facilitate international protection interviews outside Dublin using video conference technology. One of the options explored was a building in Cork City which was due to be vacated by the Probation Service which is under the remit of my Department.
I am informed that following testing of systems in the spring of 2019, staff of the International Protection Office commenced the process of conducting interviews by video in summer 2019 in the building and the premises has been in regular use since then, with the exception of periods during the COVID-19 public health restrictions.