The Minister for Justice and Equality in Ireland has signed regulations commencing the International Protection Act 2015, signed into law on 30 December 2015. Thereby introducing fundamental changes to Irish asylum law:
Firstly, a single procedure has been created. Ireland was the last remaining EU Member State not to assess claims for refugee status and subsidiary protection in one procedure. Under the new procedure, the independent Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner will be abolished and first instance decisions will now be made by International Protection Officers in the Department of Justice. A right of appeal will exist to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, which replaces the Refugee Appeals Tribunal – remaining an independent entity.
Secondly, Ireland has changed family reunification rights. Before, there were two categories: an automatic right to reunion with children and spouses, once identity was established and a discretionary category for other family members such as elderly parents or siblings where dependency on the person in Ireland could be established. This discretionary category has now been abolished. In addition, the right now only exists for 12 months following from a declaration of refugee status or subsidiary protection.
Thirdly, there is no mention of reception conditions in the new legislation. Ireland has opted out of both the Reception Conditions Directive and its recast, instead opting to regulate the issue of the reception of asylum seekers by ministerial order rather than legislation.
Additionally, while the legislation refers to the best interests of the child in numerous sections, there is no overarching provision upholding the principle; something the Irish Refugee Council advocated for before enactment.
For further Information:
- Irish Refugee Council, Recommendation on the International Protection Bill 2015, November 2015
- House of Oireachtas, International Protection Act 2015