154. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to allow more refugees from war-torn countries like Syria to reside here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28226/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Ireland has always lived up to its international humanitarian obligations and we are fully committed to playing our part in addressing the current migrant crisis facing Europe.
The Government is committed to working at European level to find sustainable solutions to the migration crisis. This humanitarian crisis is an EU issue which requires a coordinated EU response and I have made it clear to our European partners that Ireland will work closely and collaboratively with them in this regard.
As part of the Government's response to the crisis, a multi-faceted approach is being adopted including the following measures:
- establishing the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and agreeing to accept up to 4,000 persons overall under the EU Resettlement and Relocation Programmes. It is expected that these numbers will be augmented by further family reunifications;
- establishing a new cross-departmental Taskforce, chaired by my Department, to deal with the operational and logistical aspects of the support programme. The Taskforce is adopting a whole of Government approach and is working with NGOs, religious bodies, local authorities and the Red Cross to implement the Government's response to this crisis;
- engaging with the public on their pledges of support. The Red Cross will lead this task;
- establishing a network of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres for the initial reception of those arriving under the relocation programme;
- introduce the International Protection Bill as a major priority; and
- providing an additional package of processing resources to deal with major increases in asylum and other immigration cases, including the relocation measure, preparation for the Single Protection application process and increased enforcement across a number of areas, including removals.
The Irish Government has agreed to resettle 520 refugees displaced by the Syrian crisis under the Irish Refugee Resettlement Programme during 2015/2016. To date, 100 refugees have arrived in Ireland from Lebanon and Jordan. 195 refugees living in Lebanon were recently approved for admission and arrangements are underway for their transfer to Ireland. A further 225 refugees will be selected in 2016 for resettlement in Ireland.
With regard to the EU Relocation programme, Ireland has agreed to accept a total of 2,600 of the overall volume of 160,000 formally approved to date at the Justice and Home Affairs Council. The first group of persons to be relocated from Italy and Greece are expected to arrive later this year.