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Question

217. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Justice the measures in place to establish a digital first approach to the processing of international protection applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28738/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): In the Justice Plan 2021 and my Department's Statement of Strategy 2021-2023, we commit to delivering a fair immigration system for a digital age. This includes completing an end-to-end process review of the international protection process; leveraging that review to design a revised process for processing such applications; and completing the implementation of the Justice-related recommendations in the Catherine Day Advisory Report, as appropriate.
My Department is committed 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, as outlined in the White Paper to End Direct Provision and Establish a New International Protection Support Service.
Additional ICT resources have been secured for 2021, and detailed work including the end-to-end review of processes to guide enhanced processing times is well 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 the introduction of an online system to enable international protection applicants to track their applications will also be considered as part of the ongoing analysis of progress towards achieving the objectives outlined in the White Paper.
The International Protection Office (IPO) successfully piloted interviews by video conference in 2019, and is now working to expand that programme with a view to making interviews by video conference a significant element of IPO operations.
More broadly, my Department takes a joint business/IMT approach to the design and delivery of services and seeks to exploit opportunities for transformation to digital processes where appropriate, to enhance customers' experience. My Department focuses on business-led transformation supported by technology implementation. In line with this approach, the completion of the end-to-end review of international protection processes will allow for recommendations to be made on the most effective service delivery model.