A sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers from Pakistan and Bangladesh led to more than a doubling of applications for refugee status in Ireland last year.
The Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner said applicants from those two countries, most of whom had previously been resident in the UK, accounted for half of all new cases during 2015 as the number of applications rose to their highest level since 2008.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald expressed concern last year about the trend of young men on student visas in the UK travelling to Ireland to prolong their stay within the EU.
Pakistanis accounted for 41% of all asylum seekers in 2015 and Bangladeshis almost 9%. The other main countries of original of applicants were Albania, Nigeria and India.
In its latest annual report, the ORAC said it received applications from 3,276 asylum seekers in 2015 compared to 1,448 the previous year — an increase of 126%. Males accounted for four out of five of all cases.
It was also revealed that a number of refugees were considered for exclusion from the asylum process last year because of suspected links to serious crimes such as crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The number of refugee status cases fully processed by the ORAC rose by 46% last year to 1,552. The organisation also finalised 1,480 files relating to subsidiary protection.
However, the commissioner, David Costello, said the extent of the workload meant there were still 2,582 cases awaiting completion at the end of last year.
The rise in number of new applicants pushed the average waiting time for a substantive interview with asylum seekers to over 30 weeks.
Over 2,900 sets of fingerprints were sent to the EU’s asylum fingerprint database for examination. Tests showed 231 refugees had already sought asylum in other EU member states.
Separately, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal said the number of hearings before it in 2015 more than doubled with the tribunal sitting on 799 cases last year — up from 367 in 2014. It also issued rulings in 640 appeals — up 151%, while there are 1,675 cases awaiting a decision.