More asylum seekers have been deported from Ireland in the first half of this year than the total number deported in 2015, new figures reveal.
Serious concerns have been expressed by the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) as it has also emerged that the number of asylum seekers given permission to stay in Ireland on humanitarian grounds has fallen sharply this year.
The IRC said that these numbers show Ireland is becoming “less caring” in the context of the escalating migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. The numbers are in sharp contrast to promises made by the Government to accept more than 4,000 migrants escaping the conflict in Syria.
In total, 286 migrants seeking to declare for asylum or residency in Ireland have been deported in the first six months of this year, surpassing the 251 deported for the whole of last year, and the 114 in 2014.
Data obtained by the Irish Examiner also show that the numbers of people given special consideration on humanitarian grounds to remain in Ireland has plummeted from 1,201 last year down to just 339 this year.
The spike in the number of deportees and the sharp fall in those allowed to remain here on compassionate grounds has been put down to the fact that many of those seeking refuge are “turned away” at ports of entry such as Dublin and Rosslare, according to sources.
The number of these asylum seekers who are refused the ‘right to land’ in Ireland was 3,450 in 2015, and has already reached 2,050 by June this year.
This compares to the 1,935 who were refused entry throughout 2013.
On being refused entry, these asylum seekers are simply “put on the next flight back to wherever they came from”, said one source familiar with the deportation process.
To date, the government has only resettled 273 out of the 4,000 refugees it agreed to take from mainland Europe in a separate agreement.
Reacting to the figures, IRC said the statistics highlight serious “concerns” it has with the Government breaching asylum seekers’ legal rights.
Stephen Collins, a spokesman for the Refugee Council said 250 of those refused entry at Ireland’s ports were known to be from the wartorn countries of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Collins said: “We’re very concerned about their safety. We weren’t able to meet them.
“They are entitled to due course of law and legal procedures. They’re gone before we even hear of them.”
The IRC also expressed serious reservations about the rise in deportations of those who live in Ireland or appealing for permanent asylum or residency status.
The International Protection Act passed by the previous Fine Gael-Labour government last December bolstered the State’s powers to enforce deportation orders and search people’s homes.
According to the figures, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has signed 468 deportation orders so far this year, and the total number of orders for 2016 is expected to surpass the 765 issued last year.
The Tánaiste admitted that “this figure has risen substantially” in recent years.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice insisted there has been “no policy change” in 2016 to tighten up the asylum process or to crackdown on deportations.
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