Access to the territory and push backs

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 20/04/22

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Irish Refugee Council Visit Website

There have been no official reports of pushbacks of protection applicants or refoulement at the frontiers of the State. A person who arrives in Ireland seeking entry may be refused leave to land and due to the lack of independent oversight and transparency at airports or ports of entry, it is unclear whether or not a person refused leave to land had protection grounds or had intended to apply for asylum. There is currently no access for independent authorities or NGOs at air or land borders in order to monitor the situation, nor do there appear to be any plans to allow such access in the future.

Anecdotal evidence received by the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre suggests that some people may be refused leave to land and to enter Ireland even when they have grounds for protection. The Irish Refugee Council’s services have witnessed a number of cases of applicants describing that they had only been permitted entry for the purposes of seeking asylum subject to rigorous examination by border authorities. The Irish Times reported in December 2019 that “Airlines have been told to take such individuals back on a return flight before any opportunity to claim international protection arises.” The Irish Refugee Council wrote to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, in January 2020 requesting clarification about these instructions, criteria used and how they adhere to Ireland’s legal obligations. A written response from the Department of Justice stated that the purpose of checks on arrival was to determine if a person is allowed leave to land rather than any assessment of asylum. The response added that checks conducted at the point of exit from the plane have “always been a part of immigration control and as a standard procedure it complies with all legal obligations not impeding persons from claiming asylum.” A freedom of information request made by the Irish Refugee Council for information on the policies and procedures on this issue was declined. Despite indications from the Department of Justice that this practice has largely been scaled back, media reports suggest that the policy continued in effect as of March 2020. [1]

According to statistics published by Eurostat in July 2020, 7,455 individuals were denied leave to land in Ireland in 2019. The top five nationalities of persons refused leave to land were Albanian, Brazilian, South African, Bolivian and Georgian.[2] In 2020, 2,221 individuals were refused leave to land at Dublin Airport.[3] The top 5 nationalities refused leave to land in 2020 were Brazilian, Eritrean, South African, Syrian and the North American.[4] 2,333 people were refused leave to land at Dublin Airport between 1 January and 14 November 2021. The reduction in refusals of leave to land for 2020 and 2021 was a consequence of travel restrictions implemented following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top 5 nationalities refused leave to land in 2021 were Eritrean, Syrian, Somalian, Afghan and Kuwaiti.[5] The Irish Refugee Council has raised concerns in relation to the increasing number of individuals being refused leave to land from active zones of conflict that are demonstrably unsafe and has urged the government to show proactivity in ensuring effective access to the asylum procedure.[6]

Section 78 IPA amends Section 5 of the Immigration Act 2004 in a way which allows for people to be detained for short periods of time in facilities at ports of entry and/or airports instead of being placed in custody in police stations (see Detention of Asylum Seekers). The Department of Justice and Equality have been working on plans to establish a dedicated immigration facility at Dublin Airport since 2015.[7] According to a subsequent statement from the Minister for Justice, development work commenced in May 2018, “with completion expected by the end of 2018.”[8]

In December 2021, according to a statement made by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, the dedicated immigration facility at Dublin Airport was opened for use in circumstances where an individual is refused leave to land at the air border. The facility houses the newly opened Dublin Airport Garda Station and the Garda National Immigration Bureau. The Garda Station contains four single person cells and two additional detention rooms. While building works have been completed, the cells are not in operation as of yet. According to the Minister, it is intended that GNIB will detain persons refused to land overnight at the Dublin Airport Garda Station once the detention facilities are fully operational.[9]

Legal access to the territory

See section on Family reunification.

 

 

 

[1] The Irish Times, Ireland is illegally turning back Georgian and Albanian Immigrants, 2 March 2020 available at: https://bit.ly/3ot1UJE.

[2] Eurostat, ‘Enforcement of immigration legislation statistics’, July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3aSiigY.

[3] European Migration Network, Detention and Alternatives to Detention in International Protection and Return Procedures in Ireland, November 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3HtGu8h.

[4] Eurostat, ‘Enforcement of immigration legislation statistics’, 3 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/31yCK6a.

[5] Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Response to Parliamentary Question Nos 184, 185, 186, 187 and 188, 14 November 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3KaS8ah.

[6] Irish Times, Rise in people from war torn countries refused entry to the State, 2 August 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3Fq2a3x.

[7] Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald, Response to Parliamentary Question No 69, 7 July 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2lJmNTb.

[8] Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, Response to Parliamentary Question No 545, 12 June 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2Wav0Q7.

[9] Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Response to Parliamentary Question No 485, 16 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3sIJQQM.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation