1,939 asylum applications were received in the State in 2010 representing a 27.9 percent decrease on the corresponding figure of 2,689 in 2009. This is approximately a 50 percent decrease on the 2008 figure and application numbers are now one sixth of the peak figure of 11,634 reached in 2002.
A roughly 2:1 male to female ratio in asylum applications made in Ireland has persisted over time and in 2010, there were 1,266 (65.3 percent) male and 673 (34.7 percent) female asylum applications in 2010.
The top five source nationalities for applications in 2010 were Nigeria (20 percent), followed by China (11.8 percent), Pakistan (10.3 percent), DR Congo (3.6 percent) and Afghanistan (3.6 percent). In 2009, Nigeria, Pakistan and China respectively were also the three largest source nationalities.
The Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern indicated that the reduction in the number of asylum applications over the years has resulted from, among other things, the success of strategies aimed at combating across the spectrum abuses of the asylum process and the streamlining of processing arrangements in the asylum area.
In assessing the figures for 2010, the Minister noted that when voluntary returns, deportations and Dublin II transfers are taken into account, a total of 572 persons in the asylum system were either assisted to return home voluntarily, or removed from the State in 2010.
Nearly 1,900 applications made in 2010 by non-EU nationals for residence based on marriage to an EU national in Ireland under EU Treaty Rights (EUTR) legislation.
Minister Ahern stated “the largest non-EU nationality group making such applications were from Pakistan which accounted for nearly 20 percent of all EUTR applications. More significantly, I would draw attention to the fact that almost two-thirds of these Pakistani applications involved an EU partner from the Baltic States. The high incidence of such marriages, several involving asylum seekers, is an ongoing concern that my officials in co-operation with their colleagues in other interested EU states continue to monitor. In view of that, in addition to the interviewing of applicants, I have asked my officials to examine as a matter of urgency the possibility of deploying biometric technology in the context of visa applications from Pakistan. This technology has proven to be very effective to date, particularly in the area of tackling abuses in the asylum, immigration and visa areas of activity.”