Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice when a new appointment scheduling system for the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service can be expected; the amount spent to date on safeguarding the INIS website against third party agents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41685/21]
878. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of Irish naturalisation and immigration service appointments estimated to have been affected by the block booking of appointments by third party agents; the number of complaints received on this matter to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41686/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): I propose to take Questions Nos. 877 and 878 together.
My Department is aware that there have been issues in the past around the securing of registration appointments and a set of software fixes were introduced in late 2018, designed to prevent such abuses of the system. The new measures have been successful to date in preventing the block booking of appointments by third party agents.
However, some third party agents continue to provide appointment booking services in return for payment on the basis that the person provides them with their personal details in advance. My Department strongly advises against this practice of providing sensitive and personal data to unregulated and unknown third parties.
Customers should continue to apply directly for appointments as they become available without charge, through the online appointments system: burghquayregistrationoffice.inis.gov.ie.
I can assure the Deputy that my Department is continually working to establish methods to mitigate against this unregulated practice. A tender has recently been awarded for a new Immigration Service appointment and scheduling system, which will streamline and further improve the registration process. The new system is expected to be in place in the next month or so.
Figures are not maintained by my Department on the number of appointments affected by the booking of appointments by third party agents or on the number of complaints that have been received concerning this matter. Question No. 878 answered with Question No. 877.