Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applications for asylum that have been received in each of the past five years; the number that have been granted in the same period; if she will provide a breakdown of the nationalities of the person who have applied and have received asylum in the same period.
REPLY (Minister Frances Fitzgerald):
Comprehensive statistics in relation to numbers of applicants for asylum and a breakdown of applications by main nationalities for the years 2010 - 2013 inclusive are available in the annual reports of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. These are published on their website http://www.orac.ie/website/orac/oracwebsite.nsf/page/orac-stats_14-en.
In respect of 2014, a total of 1,448 applications for asylum were received, with the top five nationalities being Pakistan, Nigeria, Albania, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
For the years 2010 to 2014 inclusive a total of 160, 132, 92, 193 and 210 applicants were granted refugee status with Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia representing the top five nationalities.
This year to date has seen a sharp increase in the number of asylum applications with a total of 1,481 new asylum applications received to the end of June this year compared with 597 for the same period in 2014. This is a year on year increase of 884 applicants or 148%. The top five source countries for applications in 2015 are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Albania, Nigeria, and India. These countries account for some 70% of all applications received to end June. The sharpest increases relate to applications from Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount the State has spent in each of the past five years in dealing specifically with the legal costs of applications from asylum seekers; the overall costs related to the operation of the asylum system and refugee processes for each of the past five years..
REPLY (Minister Frances Fitzgerald):
Asylum related legal costs incurred by my Department arise from the provision of legal services by the Refugee Legal Service of the Legal Aid Board to protection applicants and also in respect of judicial review proceedings taken against the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) which are determined in favour of the applicants concerned.
The amounts incurred for the years 2010 to 2013 are €12.5m, €10.1m, €7.6m and €6.5m respectively. Precise figures for 2014 are not available but are expected to be similar to the expenditure in 2012 and 2013. The Deputy may wish to note that protection related legal costs are also incurred by the Chief State Solicitor's Office.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) estimates that the overall costs to the State for provision of services to protection applicants for the years 2009 to 2013 are as follows, €185m, €174m, €153m, €129m and €91.4m respectively. Figures in relation to 2014 have not yet been finalised. The reduction in costs is related to the numbers of persons in the system at any given time, particularly in relation to the numbers in the direct provision system which is the largest single expenditure item.
The question of costs of the Direct Provision system were examined in considerable detail in the 2010 Value for Money (VFM) Report which is available on the RIA website - www.ria.gov.ie. The Report found that there are no cheaper alternatives to the Direct Provision system and that any other system which by necessity would entail payment of rent supplement, rent benefits and so forth would be twice the cost. Moreover such a system would amount to a major pull factor which in turn would give rise to further costs which based on patterns would likely to be very significant.