In one case taken by this office, our client has gone through the whole High Court Judicial Review process on two occasions, and is now awaiting a third determination by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. We have no doubt to the genuine nature of his case, but very unfortunately for this man, he has had two very poor quality Tribunal decisions and has been in the system for many years. There are many more asylum seekers like him.
It is well established that such seemingly endless waiting periods can have serious impacts on the mental well being of asylum seekers. However, there is little point in raising such points in the High Court in attempt to have certain vulnerable applicants’ case accelerated with priority. It has been indicated by one of the High Court judges that anything bar a life-threatening illness would fail to achieve priority in the List.
Such a system creates a profound sense of hopelessness, if not depression, amongst the applicants who are waiting years to have their cases heard. The situation in Ireland in respect of these delays is now worse than in Greece, a country which was recently found by the European Court of Human Rights to be so bad that asylum seekers could not obtain a fair hearing and that asylum seekers should not be transferred from other Member States to Greece.
We therefore welcome and support the comments of Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness. Without political intervention and comprehensive new immigration and asylum legislation, it seems that Ireland, like Greece, may be held up before the European Court of Human Rights as a State acting in systematic breach of the fundamental rights of asylum seeker applicants.