Safe country of origin

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Safe country of origin Last updated: 03/06/24


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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.

South Africa was previously designated as a safe country of origin under the Refugee Act 1996 (Safe Countries of Origin) Order 2004 (S.I. No. 714 of 2004). In April 2018, the Minister for Justice commenced S.I. No. 121 of 2018, which revoked the 2004 Order. S.I. No 121 updated the safe country of origin list to include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Georgia and South Africa.[1]

In June 2023, the Department of Justice announced that it was to conduct a review of the list of so-called ‘safe countries of origin’, as established pursuant to the International Protection Act 2015 (Safe Countries of Origin) Order 2018.[2] Subsequently, in January 2024, the Minister for Justice announced that, following the conclusion of the review process, two countries, Algeria and Botswana, would be added to the safe countries list.[3] The rationale for this, according to the Minister for Justice, was to make the international protection process more efficient and to deter people from using Ireland’s asylum system as a route for ‘economic migration.’[4]

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.[5]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.[6] In 2023, Nigeria and Georgia were amongst the top 5 countries of origin with 2, 084 and 1, 065 applications respectively. Algeria also featured amongst the top 5 countries of origin with 1, 462 applications, accounting for 11% of the total applications.[7]

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 their particular circumstances and in terms of their eligibility for international protection.[8] 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. For details on how this impacts the asylum procedure, see Accelerated procedure.




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

[2] The Journal, ‘Irish officials to review ‘safe countries of origin’ designation on 8 nations within next year’, 3 June 2023, available at:

[3] Department of Justice, ‘Minister McEntee announces new measures to expedite international protection application processing’, 30 January 2024, available at:  

[4], ‘Safe countries list update aimed at deterring economic migration – McEntee’, 30 January 2024, available at:

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

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

[7] IPO, ‘Monthly Statistical Report December 2023, December 2023, available at:

[8] Section 33 IPA.

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