General (scope, grounds for accelerated procedures, time limits)
Certain cases may be prioritised under Section 73 IPA under 10 grounds, as mentioned in the section on Prioritised Examination.
Whereas that prioritisation of cases does not generally entail different guarantees, Section 43 IPA foresees different rules for appeals in cases where the applicant:
- In submitting his or her application and in presenting the grounds for his or her application in his or her preliminary interview or personal interview or any time before the conclusion of the examination, has raised only issues that are not relevant or are of minimal relevance to his or her eligibility for international protection;
- Has made inconsistent, contradictory, improbable or insufficient representations which make his or her claim to be eligible for international protection clearly unconvincing;
- For a reason related to the availability of internal protection, is not in need of international protection;
- Failed to make an application as soon as reasonably practicable, without reasonable cause;
- Comes from a Safe Country of Origin.
The existence of an internal protection alternative as a potential ground for accelerating appeals under Section 43 IPA raises serious concerns as if such a finding is made, it may significantly increase the number of persons who are subject to accelerated appeals.
There were 237 applications for international protection prioritised during 2020.
Personal interviews are conducted for all applicants at first instance. In practice there is no difference between the scope and format of a personal interview in the accelerated procedure and the normal procedure. This remained the case following the onset of Covid-19 and associated restrictions.
In March 2020, all substantive protection interviews at the IPO were postponed, including those under the accelerated procedure. Interviews recommenced for a short period in July 2020, however, in October 2020, following the reintroduction of Covid-19 restrictions, all scheduled protection interviews were cancelled from 22 October until 10 December, in line with government guidelines. Restrictions were re-implemented in late December 2020 and with effect from 30 December 2020, all substantive interviews were once again postponed until further notice.
In light of the outbreak of Covid-19, a small number of applicants for international protection were offered the possibility of conducting their substantive international protection interview remotely under a pilot process. Interviews took place via video-link, with the applicant attending from a remote location in Co. Cork and the interviewer attending at the IPO. In the experience of the Irish Refugee Council, this process led to some difficulties with regard to legal representatives’ attendance at client interviews. Attendance was usually facilitated remotely by telephone. Legal representatives were required to attend proceedings remotely by dial in. This made it difficult to hear properly, while the reading back of interview transcripts was sometimes rushed. The IPO has plans to expand its programme of remote video interviews.
Where an applicant is subject to the accelerated procedure it should continue like the regular procedure. However where the recommendation of the IPO includes one of the findings mentioned in the section on Accelerated Procedure: General there may be accelerated appeals under the IPA.
Under Section 43 IPA, applicants then have ten working days instead of 15 working days to make an appeal, which shall be determined without an oral hearing, unless the Tribunal considers it necessary in the interests of justice to have such a hearing. The appeal is suspensive.
Applicants under the accelerated procedure fall under the same rules for legal assistance as those who are not under the accelerated procedure. Practical obstacles in giving legal assistance in the accelerated procedure could include that the applicant has difficulty accessing legal representation or the legal representative has difficulty in assisting the applicant in the shorter time period. These practical obstacles subsisted throughout Covid-19.
 Section 43 IPA, citing Section 39(4) IPA.
 Section 32 IPA.
 Information provided by IPO, April 2021.
 Section 43(a) IPA; Section 3(d) International Protection Act 2015 (Procedures and Periods for Appeals) Regulations 2017.