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Question

444. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount the State has spent in each of the past five years in dealing specifically with the legal costs of applications from asylum seekers; the overall costs related to the operation of the asylum system and refugee processes for each of the past five years. [28370/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Asylum related legal costs incurred by my Department arise from the provision of legal services by the Refugee Legal Service of the Legal Aid Board to protection applicants and also in respect of judicial review proceedings taken against the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) which are determined in favour of the applicants concerned. The amounts incurred for the years 2010 to 2013 are €12.5m, €10.1m, €7.6m and €6.5m respectively. Precise figures for 2014 are not available but are expected to be similar to the expenditure in 2012 and 2013. The Deputy may wish to note that protection related legal costs are also incurred by the Chief State Solicitor's Office.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) estimates that the overall costs to the State for provision of services to protection applicants for the years 2009 to 2013 are as follows, €185m, €174m, €153m, €129m and €91.4m respectively. Figures in relation to 2014 have not yet been finalised. The reduction in costs is related to the numbers of persons in the system at any given time, particularly in relation to the numbers in the direct provision system which is the largest single expenditure item. The question of costs of the Direct Provision system were examined in considerable detail in the 2010 Value for Money (VFM) Report which is available on the RIA website - www.ria.gov.ie. The Report found that there are no cheaper alternatives to the Direct Provision system and that any other system which by necessity would entail payment of rent supplement, rent benefits and so forth would be twice the cost. Moreover such a system would amount to a major pull factor which in turn would give rise to further costs which based on patterns would likely to be very significant.