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Jan 4: Drop in number of asylum applications | Print |  Email
Wednesday, 04 January 2012

Provisional figures from the Department of Justice indicate that 1,250 new applications for asylum were received in 2011. The equivalent figure for 2010 was 1,939. Back in 2002, when the use of the asylum system by economic migrants to enter the state was at its peak, the figure was 11,600.

With many asylum seekers from previous years either awaiting the outcome of their application or challenging refusals, there were approximately 5,400 applicants accommodated in direct provision centres in the State at the end of 2011.

In the same statement the Department provided data on the issuing of visas to non-EEA nationals, primarily for the purpose of work or study. Some 130,500 were in this category at the end of 2011, compared with 132,200 a year earlier and 134,000 at the end of 2009, when registrations of non-EEA nationals were at their highest.

The current top six registered nationalities, which account for over 50% of all those registered, are India (11%), China (9%), Brazil (9%), Nigeria (9%), Philippines (8%) and USA (7%).

Almost 4,000 people were deported/removed from the State in 2011. This number comprises almost 3,700 who were refused entry into the State at ports of entry and were returned to the places from where they had come.

In addition, 280 failed asylum seekers and illegal migrants were deported from the State in 2011. A further 144 asylum seekers were transferred, under the Dublin Regulation, to the EU member state in which they first applied for asylum.

Rather than be issued with a deportation order, a total of 475 people chose to return home voluntarily in 2011. The top five nationalities of returnees were Brazil, Moldova, Nigeria, Georgia and Mongolia.

Bus and rail fares increase

DART and commuter rail fares increased today in line with rates approved by the National Transport Authority. A 6% increase applies to DART services and the increase is 6.7% for commuter rail users. The NTA is currently considering an application to increase Intercity rail fares.

Dublin Bus fares increased by 15% with effect from New Year's Day, although the increase is confined to 5% for passengers using any type of multiple journey card.

CIE claims the increases are required to cover higher costs and a reduction in the State subvention.

Levy on health insurance up by 40%

The Government today created something of a surprise by announcing that the health insurance levy is being increased by 40% to €280 per year. All three health insurance companies recently announced large increases in premiums and it appears that the Government is intent on seeing further increases.

The community rating levy is supposed to be returned to the health insurers depending on the age profile of each company's members. VHI collects the greater proportion of the proceeds of the levy because it has a much greater proportion of older members than Aviva or Quinn Heathcare who only entered the market in relatively recent times.

VHI welcomed the increase and will not pass on the cost to its members; Aviva said it would absorb the charge for the time being; and Quinn Healthcare said it would be difficult to absorb the additional cost.

Weather still making news

Problems caused by the storm that hit the country in the early hours of Tuesday are still being talked about. ESB Networks still had about 100 homes without power this morning but all linked to the grid again by lunchtime. Some ESB Networks repair crews were sent across the border to help clear the backlog of problems there.

Eircom repair crews were also busy, trying to restore telephone lines to more than 5,000 houses.

Storm force winds are again being forecast for tonight.

Home owners cough up

It was reported this morning that in the first three days of the year more than 2,100 home owners had voluntarily gone online to register their properties for the new €100 per year household charge. Some 1,800 had paid using credit cards or debit cards with the remainder opting for a direct debit.

Properties are supposed to be registered by March 1 and payment made by March 31, although it is possible to pay in four quarterly instalments.

A small group of ultra-left political activists are trying organise a boycott of the tax and are urging homeowners not to register their properties.

55 fatal industrial accidents in 2011

The Health and Safety Authority reports that a total of 55 people lost their lives in industrial accidents last year, an increase of seven on the previous year. Once again farming turned out to be the most dangerous activity, claiming 22 lives. This, however, was three fewer than in 2010.

Today's Papers

This morning the Irish Times leads with an announcement by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter yesterday, under the headline "Fall in asylum seekers linked to recession and tougher controls". The Irish Examiner reports on the clean-up of Haulbowline, with "Toxic waste may stay on island for ever", while the Irish Independent headline is "Families hit again as health cover up by €220".

The Irish News leads with the effects of the sinking of 1,600 wells in the search for shale gas, with the headline "Fracking in the spotlight".

The Weather in Galway

It is a very blustery day with showers that are frequent and heavy. Temperature 9C.

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