Dáil Éireann - Volume 595 - 14 December, 2004
Written Answers - Asylum Applications.
Mr. Cuffe Mr. Cuffe
328. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the breakdown of the figure of €350 million, which he says was spent on asylum seekers two years ago; the direct beneficiaries of the largest payments; the amount of it that goes directly to asylum seekers; and the amount of this of which persons who are not allowed to work. [33335/04]
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
Mr. McDowell:While the costs arising from the provision of services to asylum seekers are primarily a matter for the individual Departments and agencies with responsibility for such services, the most recent information available to my Department indicates that the amount spent on services to asylum seekers for 2003, which also includes immigration functions such as the operation of the deportation process, was in the region of €353 million, spread between a number of Departments and agencies.
Insofar as my Department is concerned, most of the budget on services to asylum seekers would not involve direct payments but would cover costs associated with areas such as the provision of accommodation to asylum seekers by the Reception and Integration Agency; the operation of the asylum determination process carried out by the  Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal; the cost of the provision of legal advice and assistance by the refugee legal service; and the cost of the deportation process.
In 2004, the total cost to my own Department and the asylum agencies of asylum and immigration services was approximately €120 million, which was generally in line with the level of expenditure in 2003. The budgetary allocation would also cover other expenditure items such as the cost of judicial reviews in the area of asylum and immigration, the provision of interpretation and translation services where some 140 languages are provided and other immigration related services such as the processing of visa and citizenship applications.
The remaining balance of the €353 million is made up of expenditure on services to asylum seekers provided by a number of other Departments and agencies, for example, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Education and Science. It would be for the Departments concerned to provide a detailed breakdown of expenditure for their areas of responsibility.
The successful implementation of the Government’s asylum strategy has included the operation of the wide-ranging amendments to the Refugee Act 1996 contained in the Immigration Act 2003, which were aimed, inter alia, at streamlining the asylum decision making process. This strategy has had a positive impact in terms of processing times and has contributed to Ireland having the second highest reduction in asylum applications in any EU state in 2003. While any continued reduction in asylum applications can be expected to have an impact on the level of resources allocated to services for asylum seekers in the future, expenditure in this area will have to be maintained at an appropriate level so as to ensure the efficient and effective processing of applications in particular.
In addition, the provision of immigration related services generally will continue to require an adequate level of resources so as to ensure that these also continue to be provided in an efficient and effective manner. This will include resources, for example, for the operation of the deportation process and for the processing of applications for visas and citizenship, all of which have been on the increase in recent years.
As the Deputy is aware, all asylum seekers are prohibited from taking up employment by the Refugee Act 1996. The position in relation to access by asylum seekers to the labour market is set out in my reply to the Deputy’s Question No. 429 of 30 November 2004.
Dáil Éireann 595 Written Answers Asylum Applications.