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Modular unit use in plan to overhaul immigration system

The Cabinet will consider plans aimed at overhauling the immigration system.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman will bring forward what has been described as a comprehensive accommodation strategy for international protection applicants.

The strategy aims to address the immediate crisis in international protection accommodation, while undertaking longer-term system reform by moving away from a total reliance on private providers towards a core of State-owned accommodation.

It will include an expanded programme of purchasing and construction, use of State-owned land for modular units and the conversion of unused offices for international protection accommodation.

Read more: Revised plan on ending Direct Provision set to stick to original principles

Separately, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will propose to Cabinet that Ireland opts into the EU asylum and migration pact.

The pact represents a European effort to respond to the challenges of asylum and migration.

By opting in, the Government will be committing Ireland to introducing a programme of legislation, which will replace the International Protection Act of 2015, within the next two years.

If approved, legislative changes would provide for legally binding timeframes for making decisions on international protection applications and appeals, as well as a greater focus on “efficient returns” for unsuccessful applicants.

It will also mean accelerated processing and a new border procedure to process people unlikely to be granted international protection more quickly.

There will be a new solidarity mechanism requiring countries to either make a financial contribution or agree to relocate some asylum seekers from countries facing particular pressures.

Ms McEntee has already commenced a review of safe countries to determine if further countries can be added at this time.

Since the introduction of accelerated processing in November 2022, the number of cases from safe countries have dropped by 38% according to the Department of Justice.

An initial decision for a person coming from a safe country is now made in around 60 days.

New rules on student-specific accommodation

Student-specific accommodation will have to offer leases covering the academic year under proposed new laws going to Cabinet today.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will seek Government approval to amend the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) 2004-2022.

It is intended that the new rules will come into force prior to the next academic year.

Students can opt to stay for up to 51 weeks if they wish, but they must be offered a shorter accommodation lease.

The standard student accommodation undergraduate lease duration is 38-40 weeks.

Separately, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will update Government on the 2024 Waiting List Action Plan.

The main targets include a further cut of 10% in those waiting for care longer than the Sláintecare 10-12 weeks.

A 90% reduction in patients waiting over three years or at risk of waiting over three years is also planned.

Funding of €437 million has been allocated to reduce waiting lists in 2024.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan will seek Government approval for a new draft transport strategy to manage and reduce congestion.

This will prioritise the roll out of measures in urban areas where there is greater public transport, walking and cycling.

The strategy will go out for public consultation.

Additional reporting: Sandra Hurley

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