135. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the steps she is taking to address the recommendations concerning the international protection system in a report on the international protection process (details supplied). [57976/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): My Department's overall objective is to have decisions made on applications from people seeking international protection as quickly as possible. This ensures that those who are found to be in need of protection in Ireland can receive it quickly and begin rebuilding their lives here with a sense of safety and security.
My Department is fully committed to implementing the key recommendations in the Expert Advisory Group Report to reduce processing times of both first instance decisions and appeals to 6 months respectively, as outlined in the White Paper to End Direct Provision and Establish a New International Protection Support Service.
The White Paper proposes that the new system should be operational by 2024 and that the intervening period should provide an opportunity to progress improvements in the overall processing times for international protection.
An end-to-end review of relevant international protection processes by a multi-disciplinary team from my Department, has now been completed and published. A series of measures are being put in place to address the recommendations of the review and improve efficiencies and throughput.
The International Protection Office (IPO) in my Department is also implementing measures with a view to speeding up processing times and reducing the overall number of applicants in the process. Over the last number of months there has also been a restructuring of the IPO.
The new measures have included a new case management function, restructuring of the processing division, an increase in the number of staff trained to make recommendations/decisions and removing a number of steps from the process to speed it up. The IPO have trained additional staff to increase interviewing capacity. A revised, shorter questionnaire for applicants is in place since 28 June, and is now available online.
My Department will, by October 2022 at the latest, commence a review of progress made in reducing and improving processing times. Based on the outcome of that review, we will 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.