Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice the number of foreign nationals refused leave to land at Irish ports of entry since January 2021. [56555/21]
185. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice the breakdown of nationalities among those who were refused leave to land since January 2021. [56556/21]
186. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice the number of foreign nationals refused leave to land who were referred on to the Irish Prison Service for detention until a flight was arranged. [56557/21]
187. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice the status of the immigration facilities at Transaer House; and if plans launched in 2017 to open a dedicated immigration unit at the Dublin Airport Garda station are still in train. [56558/21]
188. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice the plans in place for accommodating foreign nationals refused leave to land; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56559/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 184, 185, 186, 187 and 188 together.
Under Section 4 of the Immigration Act 2004, an Immigration Officer must determine whether a non-EEA national should be granted leave to land and thus gain entry to the State.
The Border Management Unit of my Department has responsibility for frontline immigration at Dublin Airport only. Other ports of entry are the responsibility of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).
A total of 2,333 people were refused leave to land at Dublin Airport between 1 January and 14 November of this year. This represents 0.08% of total arrivals during this time. A breakdown by nationality for those refused leave to land is set out in the table below.
Breakdown of Nationalities
|Nationality||Number of Refusals|
If a person indicates or is identified as being in need of international protection they are admitted to the international protection process. However, they will still be recorded as a refusal of leave to land.
Arrangements for the removal of persons refused permission to enter the State are essentially operational matters for the GNIB who work closely with civilian immigration officers on these matters. Detention of a person refused entry to the State is only undertaken as a last resort. There is a statutory obligation to return a person refused entry permission as soon as is practicable. Non-custodial measures, such as a requirement to report to a Garda Síochána station or a requirement to reside in a specified place, are widely used as alternatives to detention.
Section 5 of the Immigration Act, 2003 (as amended by the International protection Act, 2015), contains the main provisions dealing with the removal from the State of persons refused permission to enter. It specifies that a person to whom this section applies may be arrested by an immigration officer or a member of the Garda Síochána and detained in a prescribed place of detention for the purpose of facilitating their removal from the State, which must be as soon as is practicable. It also provides that a person may be detained for a period not exceeding 12 hours at the airport or port from which the person is due to depart.
Work has been completed on a new Block F in Cloverhill remand prison which is intended to be used to accommodate people detained for immigration purposes and ensure they can be housed separately from people on remand. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic required significant measures within the Irish Prison Service (IPS) to manage and control infection risk, and it was necessary to re-purpose Block F as an isolation unit for those prisoners who have, or are suspected of having, the virus. It is intended that when the pandemic is over, Block F will revert to its original intended use, subject to the availability of staff and the impact on resources. While this will address the situation in the immediate term, work is also proceeding on the consideration of a longer-term sustainable and compliant solution as part of my Justice Plan 2021. However, the Deputy will appreciate that there are complex issues arising and a detailed assessment of the feasibility of the various options is required and work is ongoing in that regard.
The former Transaer building at Dublin airport has been refitted and now contains the new Dublin Airport Garda station and additional office facilities occupied by the GNIB. I understand that the GNIB took up residence in the office facility during July 2019 and the local Gardaí moved into the new Garda Station during December 2019. The Garda station contains four one person cells and two additional detention rooms. While the building works have completed, the cells have not been fully commissioned at this time and outstanding matters are being addressed by the authorities. It is intended that the GNIB will detain persons refused leave to land, overnight at the Dublin Airport Garda station when the detention facilities are fully commissioned. Question No. 185 answered with Question No. 184. Question No. 186 answered with Question No. 184. Question No. 187 answered with Question No. 184. Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 184.