Europe

Number seeking asylum in Republic of Ireland drops

Twelve hundred and fifty people applied for asylum in the Republic of Ireland last year, compared to 11,600 in 2002.

The figures form part of key immigration related activity in Ireland for 2011 published by the Republic's Department of Justice.

An increase of 8% was recorded in entry visa applications, with 83,000 applications processed in 2011 along with an approval rate of 91%.

The top five nationalities applying for visas were India (17%), Russia (14%), China (12%), Turkey (5%) and Saudi Arabia (5%).

Publishing the data Ireland's Minister Alan Shatter described the Irish Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme with the UK as a 'key priority'.

The programme applies to holders of UK short-stay visas from 16 specified countries and allows persons, who are in possession of the relevant type of UK visa and who have been granted permission to enter the UK on foot of that visa, to also travel to Ireland without the need to apply for an Irish visa.

The programme will run, as a pilot, until 31 October 2012, covering the period of the London Olympic Games.

"Similarly, new initiatives targeted at immigrant investors and entrepreneurs will be prioritised with the purpose of attracting inward investment and job creation" Mr Shatter said.

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