Right to Know wins case over access to secret briefing paper for Justice Minister Helen McEntee on resumption of deportations

A secret briefing paper from the Department of Justice said the state urgently needed to resume deportations as the majority of applicants for international protection were economic migrants.

It said without a robust system for deportation, the state had very little ability to ease pressures on the immigration system or deter “inappropriate applications”.

The briefing for Minister Helen McEntee also said that countries which failed to cooperate with Ireland when it came to removing failed asylum seekers should be penalised.

The Freedom of Information request for all records on departmental discussions over resuming deportations had originally been made in the summer of 2022.

The Department of Justice failed to respond however, leading first to an internal review, and later an appeal to the Information Commissioner under FOI laws.

Officials agreed to send redacted versions of the records in November 2022 but said full release could compromise law enforcement and public safety as well as Ireland’s security, defence, and international relations.

The most controversial parts of the documents were withheld, and the Information Commissioner’s investigation continued.

In December 2023, the Department of Justice released yet more material; however, parts of certain documents were still being redacted.

Last month, the Information Commissioner issued their decision ruling the Department of Justice should release the information note for Minister Helen McEntee in its entirety.

The decision said: “The Department said the information in question was redacted from a public safety perspective.

“It argued that the release of the information may increase a negative sentiment amongst the general public and endanger genuine applicants for International Protection.”

The Information Commissioner said they fully accepted that in the current climate there were “strongly held views and heightened emotions” around immigration.

However, the decision added: “Nevertheless, it seems to me that the observations in question would not come as a surprise to the wider public to the extent that the release of the information could, of itself, reasonably be expected to endanger the lives or safety of international protection applicants generally.”

You can read the full decision at the following link: