Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ireland to take in 4,000 refugees from crisis with most arriving by Christmas

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

IRELAND will be a “safe haven” for 4,000 refugees fleeing war-torn countries, the Government has confirmed.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced the figure as part of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, after a special Cabinet meeting held this morning.

The figure represents an extra 2,900 on the 1,100 tally that Ireland had already committed to take.

Ms Fitzgerald said groups of 50 or 100 refugees will start arriving in the country in the coming weeks and many will be here before Christmas.

Priority is to be given to unaccompanied minors, the Government said, with family reunification a key component of the emergency response.


“Europe is currently undergoing a migrant crisis and Ireland will play its part to help,” the Justice Minister told reporters at Government Buildings.

“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.” 

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme is a response to the EU’s demands for all 28 member states to play their part in re-housing 160,000 refugees.

READ MORE: Justice Minister wants 'organised approach' to make the most of assistance for refugees

Britain has so far rejected a Brussels-led approach, opting to draw up its own regime and take in 20,000 Syrians.

Ms Fitzgerald said each 1,000 migrants will cost some €12m per year to support, house and feed.

She repeated the call by Public Spending Minister, Brendan Howlin, for special EU grant aid to help defray costs.

Housing will be provided in army barracks, unoccupied buildings under the control of the Office of Public Works, and in religious community properties.

The Minister said it was too early to announce specific locations or venues.

“We will work to harness the best possible response and the task force will work on that,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

The minister said she had received a generous response from several religious institutions and was looking at various offers there.

Reception and orientation centres will be set up to receive people initially and they will later be moved to more suitable longer term accommodation.

The Irish Red Cross is to be given a key role in preparing the centres for the arrival of refugees while the Garda Siochana will liaise with EU and international policing bodies regarding appropriate vetting arrangements.

Two other initiatives being run under the Government crisis response include English classes and integration schemes for refugees.

The entire programme will be overseen by a Cabinet committee on social policy, involving officials from several different government departments.


The Cabinet is due to meet for the first time in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Minister Fitzgerald will attend a special EU ministers’ meeting in Brussels next Monday.

Earlier in the week, Fitzgerald said an “organised approach” was needed to ensure Ireland dealt with the migrant crisis in an efficient and effective manner.

Everyone accepted into Ireland under the programme will be subject to biometric checks including fingerprinting, the Government said.

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