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Why do so many Georgians claim asylum in Ireland?

According to the latest statistics published by the International Protection Office in Dublin, the number of people who have applied for asylum in the state between January 1 and July 31 was 7,760.  That represents an increase of almost 800% on the same period for 2021. It is already almost three times the total number for 2021, and compares to 1,566 for 2020.

IPO Monthly Website Stats July 2022 FINAL.pdf

Those figures do not include the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have been granted residence in Ireland due to the war. It is clear that the vast increase in numbers, which are on course to well exceed 10,000, have been boosted by opportunists who have taken advantage of Ireland’s lax approach to immigration and the incentives offered to anyone who for whatever reason manages to reach the country.

The country of origin of the majority of people claiming asylum proves that there are no wars or other human rights crises forcing most of them to come to Ireland. Georgia, with over 1,500 applicants to date, is a prime example.

Not only is there no reason why so many Georgians ought to be applying for asylum anywhere, but it has long been recognised even by the Irish state that most are not legitimately fleeing anything other than a post socialist mess of a country. Cleaning that mess up is not our concern. A 2017 report on asylum seekers from Georgia bluntly concluded that “Quality of life, education and healthcare, poverty and economic inequality play a more decisive role than political stability and security.”

Nobody begrudges anyone from Georgia the opportunity to legitimately seek work in other countries and there are ways to do so in Ireland. As proven by the tens of thousands of work permits that are granted. Curiously, however, so far in 2022 of more than 27,000 work permits issued to people from outside of the EU and the EEA, just 11 were granted to people seeking to come here from Georgia to work. The figure for the whole of 2021 was seven.

A previous government did recognise the dubious nature of asylum seeking from both Georgia and Albania and for two years there was an evident crackdown on people arriving here, obviously via a third safe country where they could and should have applied for protection if that was their motive, from those countries.

That has obviously been set aside by the current government who despite referencing the added pressures on top of the Ukrainian refugee crisis is openly encouraging such opportunists to rock up to Irish airports and sea ports having conveniently lost their passports and tickets on the plane or boat.

International statistics also indicate that Ireland is one of the main targets for Georgians. In 2021 Ireland received the sixth highest number of refugee applications from Georgia in the entire world. Greatly surpassing the 34 who applied for asylum in Russia which takes the ground from under the claim that the current increase has anything to do with the war and a consequent fall in the numbers of Georgians travelling to Russia.

Gript previously contacted the Georgian embassy in Dublin for a response to the negative perception which the high number of asylum applications paints of their country. We also referred to a case in July in which the High Court over ruled a decision by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) to refuse an asylum application from a Georgian man who had falsely claimed to be gay and to be fleeing oppression on that basis.

He then changed this to a claim that he was fleeing political oppression because he supported an opposition liberal party. A party that openly contested the last general elections in 2020. He would not be the first person to use exactly the same story which clearly has some currency here. The High Court by the way accepted that the person had lied about his gayness but that his new story had not been properly assessed.

There you go. No wonder so many people are chancing their arm here with the full support of the state, almost every opposition party, and a whole raft of NGOs with skin in the game. If they are serious about looking after genuine asylum seekers – never mind doing something to alleviate the growing and unsustainable pressure on resources for actual legitimate residents – then perhaps we might expect to see a quicker turn around on the bogus arrivals.

You may be sure that we will not.

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