10th September 2015

The Government has today agreed to establish an ‘Irish Refugee Protection Programme’ to provide safe haven for persons seeking international protection and has agreed that Ireland will accept up to 4,000 persons overall under Resettlement & Relocation Programmes in response to the current migration crisis. The key points of this programme are -

· A Network of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres to be established. Applicants will not be placed into the established Direct Provision System.

· Assessments and decisions on refugee status to be made in Centres, within weeks. Given that applicants are coming from Syria and Eritrea it is likely most will get refugee status very quickly.

· Special priority will be given to the plight of unaccompanied minors in the provision of supports and services.

· The Government has approved additional budget allocation to deal with major increase in asylum and other immigration cases.

· New cross-departmental Taskforce, chaired by the Department of Justice & Equality, will coordinate and implement the Programme. The Taskforce will work with NGO’s, religious bodies, local authorities and the Irish Red Cross. The first meeting of this Taskforce will take place on Tuesday 15 September.

Full details are available here http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR15000463.

Ireland has demonstrated strong solidarity in the past both within the EU and externally and that will continue to be our approach. As is clear from the major programme announced by Government today Ireland will not be found wanting and as before will do the right and generous thing. The details of the proposals in relation to Ireland’s share of the 120,000 Relocation Proposals has yet to be agreed and accordingly it is premature at this stage to engage in discussions regarding the overall distribution between relocation and resettlement.

The Minister will attend an emergency meeting of the JHA Council in Brussels on Monday 14th September when a range of measures including the emergency measure to relocate an additional 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy, Greece and Hungary will be discussed.

Ireland has already agreed to a total of 600 persons under the EU Relocation Programme in July as well as a total of 520 from the EU Resettlement Programme. An additional 2,900 persons will now be accepted by Ireland following todays Government decision.

For those persons seeking international protection and who will be considered for ‘Relocation’ this will involve working with the relevant EU Member State i.e. Italy, Greece and Hungary to identify persons who have already made it to Europe from specified countries to transfer them to other Member States like Ireland to process their claims for international protection (asylum). The EU is establishing teams of experts from EU agencies such as Frontex and the European Asylum Support Office in Italy, Greece and Hungary (known as Hotspots) in order to ensure effective and efficient co-ordination of the relocation programmes and to work with the States concerned and Member States participating in the Relocation Programme on the selection of caseloads and other logistical arrangements. Ireland will be sending Liasion Officers to these countries in this regard. Further discussions are ongoing at EU level on the details so the dates when first persons will arrive under the Programme have yet to be determined. After arrival the persons who come to Ireland will have assessments and decisions made on their cases within weeks and the expectation across Europe is that, because the persons concerned are coming from regions in which there are armed conflicts and other forms of serious human rights abuse, up to 90% will qualify as refugees with the majority of people coming from Syria and Eritrea.

The 520 persons identified for Resettlement in Ireland will be afforded full refugee status upon their arrival in Ireland. They will be accommodated in a Resettlement Reception Centre for a short period in order to undergo an orientation programme.

This is part of Ireland wider response to the EU crisis which includes:


Since May, following a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Italy, Ireland has deployed two Irish Naval Service vessels LE Eithne and now LE Níamh on search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. These have made a very significant impact by saving the lives of thousands of people. To date, over 6,720 people have been rescued by Ireland’s Naval Service.


Ireland has also provided supports to areas particularly affected by instability and conflict. By the end of 2015, a total of €41 million will have been provided towards assisting those displaced as a result of the Syrian crisis, including through participation in a Regional Development and Protection Programme in the Middle East.

Ireland’s overall Asylum and Immigration picture

The commitments outlined above represent only a small part of the overall picture in relation to asylum and immigration. For example:

· This year alone up to 3,500 applications for asylum are expected with over 2,100 received to the end of August. A breakdown of the main nationalities is as follows: Pakistan (46%), Bangladesh (9.5%), Albania (6.7%) and Nigeria (4.8%).

· Syrian Humanitarian Admissions Programme (SHAP) was established in response to an approach from members of the Syrian Community in Ireland. A total of 114 vulnerable family members were granted permission to enter and reside in the State on a temporary basis for 2 years.

· Over the past 10 years over 30,000 persons who have come through the Protection process in Ireland have been granted Refugee Status or Leave to Remain in the State under various processes. This is a very large response in terms of the size and population of our Country.

· Over the past 4 years over 89,000 certificates of naturalisation has been granted by the Minster, many of which would have been granted refugee status or humanitarian Leave to Remain.

· Each year approximately 100,000 Non-EEA nationals are granted permission to be in the State for a variety of reasons including students, employment or family re-unification, etc.

· In addition, over 100,000 visas are expected to be granted this year both for short-term stays and for the longer term such as for business or study purposes, etc.