The majority of alleged asylum seekers in Ireland who have no identification will soon be able to open Irish bank accounts using State-issued documents.

Bank of Ireland has agreed to accept these documents starting from next month, following over three years of negotiation between the bank and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

“The decision by Bank of Ireland to accept specific State-issued paperwork, which all asylum seekers and refugees hold, will allow asylum seekers direct access to basic financial services,” the Commission said in a statement.

Bank of Ireland will now accept Temporary Residence Certificates (TRC), Stamp4 Irish Residency Permit (IRP), and/or Refugee Travel Documents from alleged asylum seekers and refugees as valid forms of identification. The Commission is calling on all of Ireland’s banks to accept these documents from asylum seekers going forward.

“Bank accounts are an essential societal service that must be available to all, including asylum seekers, in accordance with the law,” said Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney.

Up until recently, over 90% of asylum cases in Ireland were found to be invalid, and two-thirds of those were found to have used false identities.

A large proportion of Ireland’s asylum seeker community come from Albania – a country which hasn’t been at war since the 1990’s when Yugoslavia collapsed. 

In 2019, in an interview with the Sunday Independent, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that false asylum seekers from Albania were a “big driver” of illegal immigration.

“There are, however, a lot of people from Georgia and Albania coming in with fake documents and that is the big driver of the increase [in asylum claims],” he said.

“There are lots of ways to enter Ireland legally with a visa or work permit so we cannot tolerate illegal entry.”