Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority Last updated: 20/04/22


Irish Refugee Council Visit Website
Name in English Number of staff Ministry responsible Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?
International Protection Office (IPO) 166.91[1]


Department of Justice  No

Up until January 2017, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) was the body responsible for registering asylum applications and making the first instance decision. With the introduction of the IPA, ORAC was replaced by the International Protection Office (IPO), which carries out asylum registration and decision-making duties under the umbrella of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in the Department of Justice and Equality.

The IPO’s role involves making recommendations to the Minister for Justice on an applicant’s eligibility for refugee status, subsidiary protection and permission to remain under the single procedure. This system replaces the previous multi-layered process overseen by ORAC that was fraught with administrative delays and backlogs.

At the end of 2019, the IPO was composed of a total of 149 staff. At the end of 2020, there were 148.1 staff (full time equivalent) serving in the IPO. Of the 148.1 staff, there were 27.6 staff directly involved in making first instance determinations on applications for international protection at year end.[2] Data for 2021 was not available at the time of updating.

Quality assurance and control:

While the authors are not aware of any specific quality assurance or control mechanisms in place within the IPO, the UNHCR, in line with its advisory role, states that it regularly works in conjunction with the IPO with a view to improving the quality of decision making. This work includes the development and delivery of training, and the  review of decisions and other support initiatives, and draws on the best practice developed by the UNHCR through activities implemented in other EU Member States and internationally.[3]




[1] Statistics provided by IPO, April 2022.

[2] Information provided by the International Protection Office, April 2021.

[3] UNHCR, Ireland Fact Sheet – January – December 2019, available at:

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