1424. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice if she will take steps to implement the recommendation of the Catherine Day advisory group to use her discretionary power to grant permission to remain to persons who have been in the asylum process for some time; if she will acknowledge that in granting permission she would significantly reduce the current backlog in the process and ensure that any new system will not inherit this backlog; if she will also review all deportation orders with a view to granting permission as a humane expression of compassion and solidarity to all migrants who have had to contend with the anxiety and precariousness of their situation during an unprecedented public health emergency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19182/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): My Department is committed to the implementation of the recently published White Paper to End Direct Provision and Establish a New International Protection Support Service, as it relates to responsibilities under our remit.
I have established a Programme Board in my Department to oversee the implementation of recommendations of the Advisory Group relevant to my Department’s areas of responsibility, as appropriate, including the recommendations relevant to implementing the White Paper. It is supported by an Implementation Working Group comprising senior officials from the relevant areas of my Department to support their implementation and to report to the Board on progress at regular intervals.
My Department is committed to making further efficiencies in the international protection process. In this regard, the White Paper commits to implementing the key recommendations in the Advisory Group Report to reduce processing times of both first instance decisions and appeals to 6 months respectively.
Work is underway in my Department towards identifying mechanisms which will assist with working towards improved processing times. Additional ICT resources have been secured for 2021, and detailed work including an end-to-end review of processes to guide enhanced processing times is underway. When this first phase of work has been carried out it will enable a more detailed set of milestones to be put in place.
The Advisory Group's recommendation in relation to applicants who will have been two years or more in the system being granted leave to remain, will be considered in the context of the ongoing analysis of progress towards achieving the objectives outlined in the White Paper. In relation to the current backlog of international protection cases, my Department intends, in the first instance, to prioritise processing of all cases using improved processes and the planned ICT investment in the system.
My Department will, by October 2022 at the latest, commence a review of progress made in reducing and improving processing times and based on the outcome of that review, decide by the end of 2022, whether additional measures are required in order to ensure that the new system can come into operation without the overhang of any significant number of legacy cases.
Regarding Deportation Orders, I can advise the Deputy that any decision to make a Deportation Orders is only made following a comprehensive examination of the circumstances of the individual case, under all applicable headings. Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), also provides a mechanism under which any person subject to a Deportation Order can make a request to me to have that order revoked. The request needs to be founded on new information or materially changed circumstances which have arisen since the decision to make the Deportation Order was taken. Any request will be considered on its individual merits and the outcome will be that the existing Deportation Order will either be affirmed or revoked.
In line with the commitments given by the Taoiseach and I, it has been the case that deportation orders are not being enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, except in cases where an individual may be a threat to national security or whose presence in Ireland would be contrary to the public interest.
Furthermore, the Immigration Service of my Department has suspended the issuance of deportation orders during periods when Level 5 restrictions are in place. My Department has taken a pragmatic and compassionate approach to immigration arrangements in the context of COVID-19 and this approach will continue for as long as is necessary. Question No. 1425 answered with Question No. 1385.