Photo credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

Irish asylum system couldn’t take even 1% of refugees – official

A top official at the Department of Justice warned that Ireland’s asylum system could not accommodate even 1% of the refugees fleeing Ukraine.

The comments were reportedly made by David Delaney, the department’s chief international protection officer, and revealed by FOI request according to The Times.

“If even 1 per cent of 1 million displaced people claim asylum in Ireland, that would equate to 10,000 individuals — which the International Protection Office and International Protection Accommodation Services cannot absorb,” he reportedly said in an email to senior management.

Notably, 1 million refugees was an early figure which has since grown to around 6 million according to the UN.

Additionally, Delaney warned that there was risk associated with removing short-stay visa requirements for those from Ukraine, as it could “incentivise” fake applicants to scam the system.

“This option would, ironically, block the cohort that we wish to allow into the state, Ukrainian family members of Irish/EU citizens, as they should apply for a long-stay visa to come to Ireland,” said one email.

The government has since suspended this policy on the basis of suspected fraud, with the Taoiseach dubbing the suspension “wise.”

The idea was reportedly floated to retain keep requirements, but relax the amount of proof needed to verify one’s identity. However, this was seen as problematic by Department of Justice staffers, as it would be like reneging on Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s public commitment to do everything he could to help Ukrainian refugees.

“I would fear [it] would lead to a situation whereby it would appear we are rolling back on previous national commitments,” said one email.

Oonagh Buckley, the Department’s Deputy Secretary-General said that while this idea was “flexible,” she shot it down, adding “it is not in line with the public pronouncements about dropping visa requirements for Ukrainians.”

According to The Times, the FOI request containing these emails was initially refused.

The development comes weeks after Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien declared that Ireland would have “no cap” on the amount of Ukrainian refugees allowed into the country.

In addition, the government has now officially run out of accommodation, and is now resorting to putting Ukrainian refugees in military bases in lieu of other options.

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