You can find my preliminary analysis of the McMahon Report on the Protection Process and Direct Provision System here.
You can access the McMahon Report here.
The focus on speedy determination of asylum claims is nothing new. In the 2002 Programme for Government, the Fianna Fail and Progressive Democrat coalition stated (optimistically):
“We will ensure that new asylum applications are dealt with within six months and that other applications, which are currently outstanding, can be dealt with quickly.”
Similar promises (without time commitments) were made in the Fianna Fail and Green Party Programme for Government 2007-2012, and the Fine Gael and Labour Programme for Government 2011-2016. The McMahon Report provides substantial recommendations as regards numbers of decision makers needed to ensure meeting a 12 month period for disposal of protection and leave to remain claims once the single procedure is operating “efficiently”. In order to ensure the efficient operation of the single procedure, the Working Group has proposed that all individuals in the protection, leave to remain or deportation processes, for 5 years or more, should, in general, be granted either protection status or leave to remain within 6 months of this reports publication. The McMahon Report “discounted the possibility of an amnesty”. Instead, the McMahon Report recommends:
“All persons awaiting decisions at the protection process and leave to remain stages who have been in the system for five years or more from the date of initial application should be granted leave to remain or protection status as soon as possible and within a maximum of six months from the implementation start date subject to the three conditions set out below for persons awaiting a leave to remain decision. It is recommended that an implementation start and end date be set by the authorities as soon as possible.”
This will impact on an estimated 3,350 persons (out of 7,937 persons in the system). Of the 3,350 persons, 1,480 are within direct provision. While it is estimated that there may be up to 2,870 individuals who could benefit from this scheme outside direct provision, the Working Group is of the view that around half of these individuals are no longer in Ireland. At para. 3.129 of the McMahon Report, the system used to grant status is set out, with requirements to ensure that all those granted some residency status are of good character, and considerations of national security and public policy can be considered. The McMahon Report also provides a number of considerations that the State can take account of where an individual has been sentences to a term of imprisonment for 12 months or more.
The McMahon Report recommends that all such persons coming within the qualifying criteria be issued with a decision within 6 months. While keeping this at the level of administration, there may be some concerns expressed that this is not a legislative right been provided to the applicants. This ‘five year solution’ is to continue, as
“[T]he Working Group considers that no person should in principle be in the system for five years or more. The Working Group recommends that this principle continue to apply into the future notwithstanding the [properly resourced single procedure] solution…”