The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D., today announced details of a major new initiative to assist in the integration of migrants to Ireland. Funding of 5 million Euro is being made available for a wide variety of integration-related activities and projects designed to meet the challenge of ensuring that all newcomers to Ireland can develop their full potential in the context of a new and integrated Irish society.

"We must move as quickly as possible", the Minister emphasised, "on our broad integration agenda for the years ahead.  We continue to make good progress with our anti-racist plans but we need to develop and fund broad integration strategies and measures.  Real integration takes place at local level and that is why this money is being directed to help those working at the frontline in this important area."

The funding package is being organised by the Reception and Integration Agency of the Department of Justice and seeks to make rapid progress on a number of fronts.  There are a wide range of key leverage areas in which progress needs to be stimulated and the Fund is targeted to include assistance in employment, language, sport and community activities.

Funding of 2.8 million Euro for NGOs and local partnerships working in the integration area are major elements of the Fund. This funding will be distributed through Pobal who will seek proposals conforming to strict integration criteria which focus on value for money, compatibility with existing projects and better coordination of all stakeholders working in related areas.  A particular emphasis is being placed on the need to contribute to long-term mainstreaming of integration services.  

Recognising the need to continue and accelerate expenditure on the implementation of the National Action Plan against Racism (NPAR), a further 1.14 million Euro is provided for the integration elements of that plan with a special emphasis on employment, sports and the Arts. Special initiatives costing around 1 million Euro, embracing research and mapping activities, make up the balance of the Fund which includes a new small grant scheme for integration activities.

Further information will be made available as specific projects are selected under all aspects of the Fund.  

The Minister concluded saying "Considerable challenges lie ahead in developing effective and sustainable integration strategies. I am confident, however, that this specially targeted funding will facilitate and indeed accelerate the overall integration process by bringing a special focus and priority to bear on this important area of Government activity over the years ahead."

31 July 2006.


Notes for editors

The Reception and Integration Agency is part of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Pobal Ltd (formerly ADM) will run the partnership and NGO strands of the grant package.