Government approves ‘Irish Refugee Protection Programme’
“Under this Programme, Ireland will offer a welcome safe haven for families and children who have been forced to leave their homes due to war and conflict” – Minister Fitzgerald
· Network of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres to be established
· Assessments and decisions on refugee status to be made in Centres, within weeks
· New cross-departmental Taskforce, chaired by the Department of Justice & Equality, will coordinate and implement the Programme
· Cabinet Committee on Social Policy to oversee Programme
· Integration measures including English language training to be provided
· Special priority will be given to the plight of unaccompanied minors
· Gardai to liaise with EU & international policing bodies to ensure appropriate vetting arrangements put in place for all new arrivals
· Government approves additional budget allocation to deal with major increase in asylum and other immigration cases
· Irish Red Cross and other agencies to assist in harnessing offers of support from the public, including offers of accommodation
10 September 2015
Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice & Equality has today announced that The Government has agreed that Ireland will accept up to 4,000 persons overall under Resettlement & Relocation Programmes. The Government has also agreed to establish an ‘Irish Refugee Protection Programme’ to provide safe haven for persons seeking international protection. Today’s decisions were taken at a special Cabinet meeting convened by An Taoiseach to discuss Ireland’s response to the Migration Crisis.
Today’s meeting agreed that Ireland will accept up to 2,900 additional persons in need of international protection as part of the new EU programme which is in addition to both the 600 persons already committed to earlier this year under the proposed EU Relocation programme, and 520 programme refugees currently being resettled to Ireland under a previously-agreed programme. It is expected that these numbers will be augmented by further family reunifications.
Minister Fitzgerald stated: “Ireland has always lived up to its international humanitarian obligations and we are fully committed to playing our part in addressing the Migration Crisis facing Europe. We have all been shocked and upset at the scenes witnessed in southern and central Europe and the distressing scenes during rescues in the Mediterranean. It is only right that we are do all we can as a nation to help.”
“Under the new Programme agreed today, Ireland will offer a welcome safe haven for families and children who have been forced to leave their homes due to war and conflict”
Ireland’s participation in EU programmes will be discussed at next Monday’s (14th September) extraordinary meeting of the EU Council of Justice & Home Affairs (JHA) Ministers which Minister Fitzgerald will attend.
The Minister added: “We have consistently said that this humanitarian crisis is an EU issue that requires a coordinated EU response. We will work closely and collaboratively with our EU colleagues as part of this response.”
Minister Fitzgerald further announced that the Government has agreed to establish a network of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres established for the initial acceptance and processing of those in need of international protection who are accepted into Ireland under the EU Programmes. Assessments and decisions on refugee status will be made in be in the Centres, within weeks.
Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the expressions of support from the public including those who have pledged accommodation and other assistance. The Minister stated: “I have been clear that we must do all we can to harness the potential of these generous offers.”
“It was agreed today the relevant Housing Authorities in association with the Irish Red Cross, Civil Defence and other NGO’s will be asked to pursue all options, including pledges from the public, to find suitable accommodation for those granted refugee status.”
Separately, Minister Fitzgerald has confirmed that an audit will continue of all available accommodation options including an examination of State property.
Minister Fitzgerald announced that the Government has also today agreed to immediately establish a cross-departmental Taskforce, to be chaired by the Department of Justice & Equality, to coordinate and implement the logistical and operational aspects associated with the new Programme. The Taskforce will work with NGO’s, religious bodies, local authorities and the Irish Red Cross. The Minister said she would be asking for cooperation from all relevant stakeholders. The Minister added that in view of the urgency of the crisis, the new Taskforce will have its inaugural meeting in the coming days. The Government further agreed that the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy will oversee the Programme and the work of the Taskforce.
The Minister announced that the Department of Justice and Equality will work with the Department of Education and Skills, relevant agencies and NGO’s to put in place appropriate integration measures including the provision of English language training and community socialisation programmes.
The Minister stated: “We will put in place all the necessary supports to ensure that those coming to Ireland can integrate as well as helping them to overcome any trauma they endured on having to flee their home countries.”
Minister Fitzgerald added that special priority will be given to the plight of unaccompanied minors. The Minister stated: “Special arrangements involving the relevant state agencies will be put in place to support the needs for unaccompanied, vulnerable children.”
Responding to concerns relating to security, the Minister will be asking An Garda Síochána to liaise with EU & international policing bodies to ensure that appropriate vetting arrangements are put in place for all new arrivals. All persons arriving under the Programme will be subject to biometric checks. Including fingerprinting.
The Government today further agreed that an additional budget allocation will be made to deal with the major recent increase in asylum and other immigration cases, including backlog cases identified in the recent report of the Working Group on the Protection System, the introduction single protection application procedure and increased enforcement, including removals.
Minister Fitzgerald added that it was an urgent priority Government’s to bring forward the International Protection Bill to streamline and expedite application for protection status. The Minister also reaffirmed the current legal position whereby persons who are assessed and granted refugee status will be entitled to full State services such as right to work, welfare and education.