530. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 88 of 7 May 2017, the number of new staff hires engaged in the provision of services in the area of international protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25424/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Further to the response to the Deputy's previous Parliamentary Question in this regard, the Legal Aid Board operates a mixed model of service delivery to persons seeking international protection in the State. This incorporates both the use of in-house staff, including solicitor staff, working in law centres and the referral of cases to private solicitors on a panel.
The service provision is split between two units, the Refugee Documentation Centre (RDC), and the International Protection Unit (IPU). Since May 2017, eight new staff have been engaged to increase the provision of these services. The Deputy should note that, while one hire was to cover maternity leave and another was an intern post, these new hires are in addition to the 13 indicated in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 88 of 17 May 2017. These are broken down as below:

Refugee Documentation Centre Executive Officer 1.0
Clerical Officer 1.0
Clerical Officer 1.0
Intern (for a period of 6 weeks) 1.0
International Protection Unit Managing Solicitor Grade I 1.0
Solicitor Grade III 1.0
Solicitor Grade III 1.0
Legal Clerk (Maternity Cover) 1.0

The Deputy should also note that the Board provides legal services in relation to a range of important civil issues. While the Board is developing specialisation in its staff, it also wishes to ensure flexibility in order to address areas of particular demand or priority at a point in time. Therefore additional staff covering those broader civil law issues can also be engaged in international protection cases.