Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2017, 13:52 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Ireland

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2000
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Ireland , 1 June 2000, available at: [accessed 15 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


At the end of 1999, Ireland hosted 8,534 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection. These included 7,985 asylum seekers awaiting decisions on pending applications, 38 individuals granted temporary protection, and 511 persons granted refugee status during the year.

Ireland received 7,724 asylum applications in 1999, a 67 percent increase from the 4,626 applications received in 1998. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the largest number of applicants came from Romania (2,226), Nigeria (1,895), Poland (600), former Yugoslavia (279), Moldova (275), Algeria (273), and Congo-Kinshasa (272).

Ireland granted refugee status to 160 individuals in the regular asylum procedure (first-instance decisions) and 351 individuals at the appeals stage during 1999. Ireland denied 3,115 applications, of which 133 were determined to be manifestly unfounded. Consequently, the approval rating rose slightly from 12 percent in 1998 to 14 percent in 1999. Both represent a decrease from the 40 percent approval rating in 1997. Another 1,622 applications were deemed abandoned and were administratively closed.

Asylum Procedure

Asylum seekers arriving in Dublin apply for asylum at the Ministry of Justice, which examines their applications in consultation with UNHCR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Those arriving at Shannon Airport in western Ireland's County Clare apply directly with immigration officers at the airport. In 1999, Ireland continued to transfer and receive asylum seekers under the Dublin Convention, which Ireland signed in September 1997 (see chart).

After completing an asylum questionnaire, applicants receive an identity card that is valid for three to six months. While awaiting a decision on their claim, asylum seekers can live anywhere in Ireland, provided they sign in weekly at the Aliens Registration Office if they live in Dublin, or at a police station if they live outside the Dublin area.

A significant increase in asylum seekers caused a shortage of accommodations in the Dublin area, where most asylum seekers live. The government announced in December a plan to disperse asylum seekers to hotels and hostels around the country.

The government also planned to eliminate cash allowances in exchange for a voucher system, by April 2000. Assistance in kind will replace cash welfare payments for living expenses. Asylum seekers are eligible for free health and dental care, education up to the age of sixteen, subsidized housing, and limited financial assistance.

In December, the government began sending letters to all asylum seekers eligible to work, allowing them to seek employment immediately, without a work permit.

Legislative Changes

In July 1999, Ireland amended its Refugee Act of 1996. The new legislation provided for the appointment of a refugee application commissioner; establishment of a refugee appeals tribunal; development of a quality control system; and the creation of a refugee advisory board of relevant government departments and refugee interest groups. Many of these statutory changes remained unimplemented at year's end.

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC), a nongovernmental organization, expressed concern that the 1999 immigration legislation did not provide adequate access to interpretation services, and that the new law could jeopardize asylum seekers' access to other services. In every instance that the legislation mentioned services for asylum seekers, the IRC pointed out, it was qualified by the phrase "where necessary and possible."

The IRC also expressed concern over provisions in the law concerning the detention of asylum seekers. The law allows asylum seekers to be detained indefinitely, according to the IRC, without being charged with any offense.

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