Minister Stanton welcomes the announcement of the GRSI ‘International Award’ to Ireland for the Community Sponsorship Initiative (CSI)


11 October 2019


The Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, has welcomed the decision by The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) to give its first “International Award” to Ireland’s Community Sponsorship Programme.


The programme involves community groups assisting refugee families in accessing services upon their arrival in a town or area. It ensures that these groups provide not only supports, but most importantly friendship and a warm welcome.


Speaking this week about the GRSI’s decision to recognise Ireland in this way, the Minister said:


I am delighted that the GRSI has chosen Ireland as the first recipient of this award. It recognises the hard work and dedication of individuals and groups across the community sponsorship programme. Community sponsorship has made a tremendous contribution to the integration of refugee families who have come to Ireland under the resettlement scheme.”


The Minister continued:


“I feel very passionate about this initiative and I want to acknowledge the valuable advice and guidance I received from Canadian and British policy makers when I was examining how best to establish a scheme in Ireland. 


“Above all, those who provide support to the families under the scheme are true examples of the values of welcome and friendship that are so central to Irish life. I would like to thank everyone who has helped to make the programme such a success and to congratulate them on this wonderful international recognition.”


The GRSI award acknowledges the many contributions Irish stakeholders from throughout the system have made, both in the implementation of the first phase of the Irish community sponsorship programme and in sharing expertise with others.


The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by a government decision in September 2015 as Ireland’s response to the migration crisis in Europe. The Programme aimed to take in 4,000 refugees via a number of different mechanisms.  


Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) was established in 2018 as a complementary resettlement stream to the traditional state-centred model for refugees.  The unique feature of the programme is to provide private citizens and community-based organisations an opportunity to directly support a refugee family.




Notes for Editors


A pilot CSI programme started in December 2018 in collaboration with the UNHCR and the Irish NGO sector and will run until the end of this month. During this pilot phase, 5 refugee families (17 persons) have been welcomed to Community Sponsorship groups in counties Cork, Waterford and Meath. 


The pilot phase is currently under review, and a decision on whether to establish Community Sponsorship as a national programme is expected over the coming weeks.  


CSI is intended to provide alternative access to integration supports provided nationally by local authorities, government departments and agencies, to refugees under the government’s refugee resettlement programme.


The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) is a joint initiative led by the Government of Canada; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the Open Society Foundations; the Giustra Foundation; and the University of Ottawa. The initiative aims to:


·     increase and improve global refugee resettlement by engaging private citizens, communities, and businesses in resettlement efforts;

·     strengthen local host communities that come together to welcome newcomers; and

·     improve the narrative about refugees and other newcomers.


Founded in 2018, the Community Sponsorship Awards is an annual event that is hosted by the UK NGO “Sponsor Refugees”. It brings together and recognizes stakeholders from across the UK’s sponsorship ecosystem – politicians, government officials, local authorities, sponsors, NGOs, media, funders, and refugees.


The Awards Ceremony took place on Tuesday 8th October at Canada House in London, and was hosted by Lori McDonald, Canadian Associate Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.


This year, an “International Award” is being presented for the first time, and has been awarded to Ireland. Ireland is receiving this award to “recognize the many contributions Irish stakeholders from all parts of your system have made to both implementing the first phase of your own [community sponsorship) program and sharing your enthusiasm and expertise with others”.