218. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will amend the Refugee Act 1996 to enable persons in refugee camps fleeing persecution to initiate their asylum applications prior to arriving at the frontiers of the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13384/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy is aware, section 8 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) provides that any person who arrives at the frontiers of the State or any person who at any time is in the State seeking the status of a refugee may apply to the Minister for Justice and Equality for a declaration of refugee status. This provision is restated in the International Protection Act 2015, which is expected to be commenced later this year. The internationally recognised convention is that persons who are forced to flee their homeland should seek international protection in the first safe haven they encounter. The concept proposed by the Deputy would appear to suggest that persons would, in effect, select the country they wished to make application for asylum. This would be contrary to EU law, in particular the Dublin Convention, which provided that persons arriving in the EU must claim asylum in the first Member State they arrive in.
Ireland remains committed to playing its part in addressing the current migrant crisis facing Europe. In addition to accepting applications for refugee status from persons who are in or at the frontiers of the State the Government agreed, in September 2015, to establish the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and to accept up to 4,000 persons overall under the EU Resettlement and Relocation Programmes. Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 85.