From top: Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; David Costello, head of the International Protection Office; and Jose Carreira, executive director of the European Asylum Support Office; a section of a questionnaire sent out to asylum seekers in Ireland
You’ll recall how the International Protection Act came into effect on December 31, 2016, allowing for new streamlined “single application” procedure for asylum seekers seeking protection in Ireland.
In February, 60-page questionnaires were sent to some 3,000 asylum seekers outlining a specific deadline for their return (see above).
After concerns were raised, the Department of Justice later stated:
“As is clearly stated on the form, applicants are requested to respond within 20 working days, if possible.”
Last week, asylum seekers addressed members of the Oireachtas to explain that the deadline caused great confusion and panic among asylum seekers.
Further to this…
Dublin solicitor Wendy Lyon writes:
[Last night] I attended a briefing for practitioners by David Costello, head of the International Protection Office, on the new procedures. On the subject of the 20-day deadline he repeated the now standard line that this was never a hard deadline and that all flexibility was being shown.
At the Q&A I read out the part of the questionnaire in the attached photo, with the intention of pointing out that it was not unreasonable for asylum seekers to think they really needed to meet the deadline. I didn’t even get that far because he immediately accused me of selectively quoting and omitting the part that said ‘if possible’. I said there was no part of this section of the questionnaire that said ‘if possible’. He insisted I was wrong.
I invited him to read the part in my photograph. He said ‘I didn’t need to read it, I wrote it.’ He shouted that it was unprofessional of me to even bring this up. And then he refused to discuss the matter any further.
Thanks Mark Malone