Safe country of origin

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Safe country of origin Last updated: 25/05/23


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Under Section 72 IPA the Minister may make an order designating a country as safe and it should be deemed a safe country of origin for the purposes of the single procedure. In deciding to make such an order the Minister must be satisfied that, on the basis of the legal situation, the application of the law within a democratic system and the general political circumstances, it can be shown that there is generally and consistently no persecution, no torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and no threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict. In making the assessment, the Minister shall have regard to the extent to which protection is provided against persecution or mistreatment by (a) the relevant laws and regulations of the country and the manner in which they are applied, (b) observance of the rights and freedoms laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and UN Convention against Torture, in particular the rights from which derogation cannot be made under Article 15(2) ECHR; (c) respect for the nonrefoulement principle in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and (d) provision for a system of effective remedies against violations of those rights and freedoms. The Minister’s decision shall be based on a number of sources of information including, in particular, information from other Member States, the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA, former European Asylum Support Office), the High Commissioner, the Council of Europe and such other international organisations as the Minister considers appropriate.

The Minister may amend or revoke any such order and shall review on a regular basis the situation of any country designated under Section 72.

In April 2018, the Minister for Justice commenced S.I. No. 121 of 2018, which updated the safe country of origin list to include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Georgia and South Africa.[1] This list remains the same as of January 2023. The United Kingdom was also recently designated a ‘safe third country’ pursuant to the International Protection Act 2015.[2]

The safe country of origin list continues to be applied in practice, namely in response to a significant increase in the numbers of applicants to Ireland from those countries since 2017. According to application figures for 2020, South Africa was amongst the top 5 countries of origin for international protection in Ireland, with 77 applications, accounting for 5.5% of the total applications, as of November 2020.[3]As of December 2022, Georgia and South Africa were once again amongst the top 10 countries of origin, with 2,710 and 450 applications respectively.[4]

Where it appears to the IPO that an applicant is a national or has a right of residence in a designated safe country then the country will be deemed to be a safe country of origin for the purposes of an assessment of an applicant’s international protection application only where: (a) the country is the country of origin of the applicant; and (b) the applicant has not submitted any serious grounds for considering the country not to be a safe country of origin in his or her particular circumstances and in terms of his or her eligibility for international protection.[5] There is no appeal against a designation that a person comes from a designated safe country of origin.

Under the revised procedure applicants from so-called ‘safe countries of origin’ will now receive a date for their substantive interview within four to six weeks of making their initial application. It should also bed noted that, pursuant to the relevant regulation, this accelerated procedure may also be applied to any application subject to the need for fairness and efficiency and whereby the international protection office considered same necessary and expedient.

According to the International Protection Office, all applications will continue to be examined individually and applicants whose applications are examined under the new procedure will retain the right to appeal a negative recommendation by the IPO to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal.[6] However, pursuant to the International Protection Act 2015 (Procedures and Periods for Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, whereby the IPO recommends that an applicant’s application for refugee or subsidiary protection should be refused on the basis of one of the reasons established pursuant to s.39(4) of the International Protection Act 2015, the timeframe in which to submit an appeal is shortened to 10 working days from the date of the decision.[7] Such reasons include whereby a finding is made by the International Protection Office that the issues raised in the application were not relevant to the applicant’s eligibility for international protection, whereby the applicant’s representations have been inconsistent or contradictory, whereby the applicant failed to make the application as soon as they could without good reason, whereby a finding is made that the applicant did not require international protection due to the possibility of safe internal relocation within their country of origin, or whereby the application is refused and the applicant comes from a safe country of origin.[8]An applicant’s appeal will be decided without an oral hearing, unless IPAT believes that it is in the interests of justice to hold an oral hearing.[9]




[1] S.I. No. 121 of 2018, International Protection Act 2015 (Safe Countries of Origin) Order 2018.

[2] S.I. No. 725/2020 – International Protection Act 2015 (Safe Third Country) Order 2020, available at:

[3] IPO, November Statistics, November 2020, available at:

[4] Acting Minister for Justice Simon Harris, Response to Parliamentary Question No 558, 31 January 2023, available at:

[5] Section 33 IPA.

[6]  International Protection Office, ‘The European Communities (International Protection Procedures) Regulations 2022 and the International Protection Act 2015 (Procedures and Periods for Appeals)(Amendment) Regulations 2022 – Information Note’, 8th November 2022, available at:

[7] International Protection Act 2015 (Procedures and Periods for Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

[8] International Protection Act 2015, s.39(4).

[9] International Protection Act 2015 (Procedures and Periods for Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

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