Parliamentary Questions and Replies on Resettlement of Refugees


PQ 21st February 2017


96. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will outline the integration programme for refugees arriving here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8287/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Deputy may be aware that an Irish refugee resettlement programme has been in operation since 2000. 1,723 vulnerable persons from 27 different countries, including Iraq and Syria, have been admitted as "programme refugees" for resettlement purposes under this programme. 519 persons were admitted between August 2015 and December 2016 and a further 520 persons are expected to arrive during the course of 2017. 

  The Government set up the Irish Refugee Protection Programme in 2015 to coordinate the admission of up to 4,000 persons under resettlement and relocation programmes. Refugees admitted under the resettlement programme have been resettled in 39 different communities throughout Ireland and in all four Dublin local authority areas to date. In the coming months, persons admitted under the relocation programme and who have been granted refugee status, subsidiary protection or permission to remain will begin the process of resettlement into local communities. Preparatory work is ongoing in this regard. 

  Resettlement has been ongoing in Ireland since 2000 when the first refugees were admitted under the resettlement quota programme. Over the years, programmes have been developed to support refugees, known as "programme refugees", post arrival to assist refugees to adjust and to prepare for independent living. A separate programme, building on the work started during the Reception phase, begins in local receiving communities approximately nine months before the refugees move into the local community.

  The Resettlement Programme is coordinated at the national level by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration (OPMI), Department of Justice and Equality, and is overseen by an Inter-Departmental Working Group which has representation from mainstream Government Departments, the HSE, and SOLAS. This Inter-Departmental Working Group at a national level is a key driver of the resettlement programme.

  Key elements of the post arrival programme are:

   - Staff from the OPMI Resettlement Team, accompanied by interpreters, meet the refugees airside on arrival and accompany them to an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre where they are accommodated for approximately 8 to 12 weeks.

   - During the days post arrival the refugees are registered with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) where they are issued with a Registration Certificate.

   - Refugees are registered with the Department of Social Protection for a public services card and to be assessed for a social protection income.

   - Refugees are assisted to apply for a medical card.

   - An 8 to 10 week Language Training and Cultural Orientation programme is provided by the Education and Training Board. During this programme, refugees hear about their rights and responsibilities. They have time to ask questions, build confidence and rest. Speakers are invited from various organisations to provide information about their services. Interpretation is provided to ensure a full understanding of the content on the part of the refugees.

   - Local Service Providers, volunteers and NGOs visit the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres to provide services, to provide information and to support and befriend the refugees.

   - The period of 8 -10 weeks allows newly arrived refugees to rest and acclimatise to their new environment and culture before being moved to independent living in the community.

   - A GP is assigned and refugees have the opportunity to deal with their emergency medical needs. Adults and children who may not have had access to medical services for some time are referred for Dental and Optical assessments.

   - Interpreter/Translator/Cross Cultural workers are currently being interviewed to work in the EROCs to facilitate better understanding between service providers and the refugee clients to promote better outcomes for the refugees.

   - Childcare is provided free of charge to allow the adults to attend the Language and Orientation programme.

   - Education provision is made for school age children by the Department of Education and Skills.

   - Refugees are individually assisted to apply for a medical card.

   - Emergency medical matters are followed up while resident in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres.

   - Once the refugees have completed their post arrival Orientation and Language Training programme, and when housing is available, the refugees are transferred to the Local Community with the support of the resettlement team from the OPMI and supported at a local level by service providers and volunteers in the local community. 

  The Language and Orientation Training that began while resident in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre continues post resettlement in the community.

  Key elements of the resettlement programme in the Community are:

   - The programme is coordinated at local level by a Resettlement Inter-agency Working Group comprising of representatives of all local mainstream Service Providers which is established in each receiving community. The local Inter-agency Working Group is chaired by the Local Authority and supported by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration.   

   - Work in preparation for the arrival of refugees begins nine months in advance of resettlement.

   - Services to refugees are provided on the basis of mainstream model of service provision, while recognising that targeted initiatives may be required during the first year post resettlement as the newly arrived refugees adapt to independent living, a new language and culture.

   - Each Service Provider representative on the Inter-Agency Working Group plays a role in the preparation for receiving the refugees. 

   - GPs, school placement, housing, social protection income and English language training, links with the local NGOs and the Community and Voluntary sector are organised, in so far as possible, in advance of the refugees' arrival in the community. 

   - Programme refugees admitted for resettlement purposes have, in general, the same rights and entitlements as an Irish citizen in relation e.g. to employment, education and training, medical care, social welfare, access to the courts etc. 

   - OPMI provides interpretation where required and assists in the resolution of issues arising during the first two weeks post arrival. 

   - OPMI provides funding to employ a Resettlement Support Worker who works closely with the refugee community to help them to resolve issues arising thus building capacity towards independent living. The Resettlement Support Worker provides day to day support, identifies gaps in services and issues arising relating to accessing services, and brings these to the attention of the Service Provider.

   - Language training is provided in the receiving community by the Education and Training Board for a period of 12 months post arrival. Where a person has adequate levels of English, that person is placed in mainstream courses by the Education and Training Board. The person may also be referred to the Department of Social Protection for inclusion in their activation programmes.

   - Childcare is provided under mainstream Childcare schemes funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. This facilitates participation by adults in language and other training programmes.

   - Children are placed in local schools. Funding is provided through OPMI grants to organise after-schools clubs and to encourage children to participate in school outings, sporting and other activities at a local level.

   - Funding is provided by the OPMI to support engagement by adults in local events and activities such as promoting participation in men's shed, women's groups, involvement in the arts and sporting activities, organising intercultural events promoting participation in volunteering at a local level. 

   - Local NGOs and the Community and Voluntary Sector work in cooperation with the local Resettlement Support Worker to include newly arrived refugees in local activities.

   - Local volunteers are encouraged and facilitated to engage with newly arrived refugees at a local level. Funding is provided to encourage outings and visits to local attractions and other activities organised by volunteers, subject to appropriate Garda vetting.

   - Adults and children are encouraged to participate in local sporting activities and funding is provided to support this where appropriate. 

   - All resettled refugees have the contact details of their key OPMI Resettlement Officer should any issues arise that cannot be resolved locally.

  It is intended that similar programmes will be put in place for persons relocated from Greece and/or Italy under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and work is ongoing in this regard.


http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-21-02-2017-96

PQ 16th February 2017


76. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality he number of refugees who have been resettled here from refugee camps in Lebanon since September 2015; the number of refugees the Government plans to resettle here from Lebanon in total; and when she plans to reach this target. [7837/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Deputy will be aware that, in response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa, the Government established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP), and pledged to accept 4,000 persons into the State under resettlement and relocation programmes. At least 1040 of the 4000 will be admitted as programme refugees under the refugee resettlement programme.
519 programme refugees have been admitted to date from Lebanon since 4 August 2015. A further 521 persons are due to be admitted from Lebanon under the resettlement programme before the end of 2017. Six of these refugees arrived on 13 February 2017. A further 254 refugees are due to arrive from Lebanon before the end of March 2017, with the balance due to arrive in Autumn 2017.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-16-02-2017-76

PQ 9th February 2017


 58. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if all resettled refugees who have arrived here as part of the Irish refugee protection programme receive an orientation and language training programme as provided for on the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration website (details supplied). [6562/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration of the Department of Justice and Equality coordinates the resettlement strand of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

The local Education and Training Board provides a language training and orientation programme for a period of 8 weeks for adult programme refugees admitted under the resettlement strand of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and accommodated in one of the two Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres used by the programme i.e. the Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin and the Clonea Strand Hotel in Dungarvan. It is up to each adult to decide if they wish to attend this programme but attendance is strongly encouraged and participation levels are good. Persons over 16 years may also attend the adult programme but 16 - 17 year olds generally prefer to attend the local Community Schools with the other teenagers. Transport and childcare, where available, is provided to enable the adult residents in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres to attend the programme.

In exceptional circumstances where the arrival of refugees from the country of refuge is delayed, for example where an expectant mother cannot travel for the safety of her unborn child, that family may not receive the full orientation programme while resident in the centre. Such refugees prefer to move to the community when housing is available rather than remain in the reception centre for the purposes of continuing the initial orientation and training programme. The Education and Training Board will continue to provide a language training and orientation programme for up to one year post resettlement in the community. All topics covered in the initial orientation and language training programme are revisited during this period.

Transition arrangements are put in place in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres for children up to 12 years. Many children of this age have never attended mainstream education. The transition programme, which is run by qualified teachers, is designed to introduce children to normal school behaviours and practices and they also follow part of the mainstream curriculum and learn English. The objective is to prepare children for an easy transition to mainstream education when they move to the community.

Similar arrangements will be provided in the new Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres for asylum seekers admitted under the relocation programme from Italy and Greece.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-09-02-2017-58

PQ 19th January 2017


56. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality  if the Government has an integration programme for refugees arriving here; if not, the reason; when an integration programme will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2260/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy may be aware, an Irish refugee resettlement programme has been in operation since 2000. 1,717 vulnerable persons from 27 different countries, including Iraq and Syria, have been resettled under this programme in Ireland to date. Refugees have been resettled in 39 different communities throughout Ireland and in all four Dublin local authority areas to date.

The key elements of the programme are:
  • The programme is overseen at the national level by an Inter-Departmental Working Group chaired by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration (OPMI) in the Department of Justice and Equality.
  • It is overseen at the local level by an inter-agency working group established in each receiving community and chaired by the Local Authority.
  • Representatives of the OPMI resettlement team, accompanied by interpreters, meet the refugees on arrival airside in the airport and accompany them to an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre where they are accommodated for approximately 8 to 10 weeks.
  • An 8 to 10 week language training and orientation programme is provided by the Education and Training Board in cooperation with OPMI at the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre. Speakers are invited from various organisations to provide information about their services to the refugees. Interpretation is provided to ensure a full understanding of the content on the part of the refugees.
  • Childcare is provided free of charge to allow the adults to attend the programme.
  • Education provision is made for school age children by the Department of Education and Skills.
  • Refugees are assisted to apply for medical cards and assigned a GP.
  • Refugees are taken to register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) where they are issued with a Registration Certificate and to the Department of Social Protection to register for a public services card and to be assessed for a social protection income.
  • Programme refugees have, in general, the same rights and entitlements as an Irish citizen in relation e.g. to employment, education and training, medical care, social welfare, access to the courts etc. OPMI works in consultation with all relevant agencies at the national and local level to ensure that refugees can access services to which they are entitled and that the necessary services are put in place as quickly as possible.
  • Prior to the transfer of refugees to their permanent location, decisions about housing, education, health services etc. have to be taken by the local inter-agency working group in consultation with OPMI.
  • The OPMI arranges the transfer from the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre to the receiving community. OPMI staff also accompany refugees to their first appointments with the various public services in the local community, providing interpretation where required and assisting in the resolution of any difficulties etc.
  • Further language training is provided in the receiving community by the Education and Training Board for a period of 12 months post arrival.
  • The OPMI resettlement team supports the local inter-agency working group for approximately 18 months after the transfer of the refugees to the receiving community. Grants are made by the OPMI to the receiving community to employ a resettlement support worker for a period of up to one year. The Resettlement Support Worker organises a suite of integration initiatives during the first year post arrival, such as the establishment of homework clubs, developing links with sporting clubs; promoting participation in local men’s and women’s activities; organising intercultural events and promoting participation in the arts and in volunteering at a local level. In the first year post resettlement, the focus is on preparing refugees for employment and independent living. Language and other training programmes are organised at a local level by the Education and Training Board in consultation with INTREO and other local agencies.
  • All resettled refugees have the contact details of their key OPMI resettlement officer should any issues arise that cannot be resolved locally.

Similar supports will be provided for all refugees admitted under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.


http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-19-01-2017-56

PQ 16th December 2016


53. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of refugees settled here under the Irish refugee protection programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40309/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton):  The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by Government Decision on 10 September 2015 as a direct response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Under this programme, the Government pledged to accept a total of 4,000 persons into the State by the end of 2017, through a combination of the EU relocation mechanism established by two EU Council Decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece, and the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme currently focused on resettling refugees from camps in Jordan and Lebanon. 

Under the resettlement strand of the IRPP, 519 persons out of the original quota of 520 persons displaced by the Syrian conflict have arrived in Ireland to date, well ahead of the EU Commission deadline for this programme.   In addition, the Government recently announced that it is extending the resettlement programme to take in a further 520 refugees from Lebanon in 2017. Sufficient refugees to fill 260 places on this quota have already been selected during a selection mission to Lebanon in October 2016 and these refugees are expected to arrive in Spring 2017. A further selection mission to Lebanon will be arranged in coming months to select the balance of the 2017 quota. Ireland will therefore have accepted 1,040 refugees under this strand by the end of 2017.

 Under the relocation strand of the IRPP Ireland was allocated a total of 2,622 persons by two Council decisions and these were apportioned between Italy and Greece. 1,089 of this quota is to come from Greece and 623 from Italy. The balance of 910 has yet to be assigned by the Commission to either country but it is anticipated that the Commissions may take a decision in this regard in the New Year. 

 As the Deputy may be aware the relocation strand of the IRPP was slow to become active largely because of serious operational difficulties in Italy and Greece in establishing camps and hot spots and registering asylum seekers under the EU Programme. In the case of Greece the programme is now fully operational and Ireland will deliver on its commitment by the deadline. In the case of Italy, serious difficulties persist as the Italian authorities have taken a position that they will not allow security assessments on Italian soil by an Garda Síochána of applicants for relocation. There have been several attempts to resolve this issue including a bi-lateral intervention by me with my Italian counterpart. Efforts continue to try to resolve the matter and I remain hopeful that a solution can be found. 

 Ireland has, to-date, taken in 109 asylum seekers from Greece, mostly families, and a further 130 asylum seekers are to arrive in Dublin Airport tomorrow, Friday 16 December, 2016.   A further 84 people have been assessed in Athens by the IRPP team and cleared for arrival and arrangements for their travel to the State are currently being made. The IRPP team includes members of the Department of Justice and Equality, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC), an Garda Síochána and, as necessary, representatives of other Departments and Agencies, such as Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. This week, IRPP officials are interviewing a group of approximately 80 people in Athens who, subject to Garda security assessments, are expected to be approved for arrival early in the New Year. In all, this means that over 400 persons, mostly families with young children, will have either arrived in Ireland or been assessed for arrival by the end of 2016. The intention is to sustain the pace of intakes throughout 2017 at the levels required to allow Ireland to meets its current commitment of 1,089 within the timeframe envisaged by the Council decisions. A summary of arrivals to date is attached in Table A below. 

 The Deputy will also be aware that the Tánaiste returned on Tuesday evening from an official visit to Greece where she was accompanied for part of the visit by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, T.D. The purpose of the visit was to see at first hand the consequences of the migrant crisis, to hear about the issues from those directly involved and to discuss Ireland's role. The Tánaiste met with the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the Minister for Migration, Ioannis Mouzalas, the Minister of Interior, 
Panos Skourletis,senior Greek officials, UNHCR, UNICEF, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), MSF, Oxfam and a range of Greek NGO bodies involved in the migration crisis. She also visited two migrant camps in Athens, Eleonas and Skaramangas, and a centre for unaccompanied minors where she met volunteers, including Irish volunteers working in the camps, as well as migrants and children.

Table A: Arrivals in Ireland by Friday 16 December 2016



IRPP Programme
Numbers admitted
Total No. of Adults
Total No. of Children
of which Children under 12
Resettlement519240279231
Relocation23913510482
Totals758375383313


Link to reply on website -http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-16-12-2016-53

PQ 14th December 2016


 76. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her views on introducing a humanitarian admission programme similar to the the Syrian humanitarian admission scheme that could enable refugees, migrants and naturalised citizens to apply for their extended family members who are currently displaced or living in conflict zones to join them here. [40331/16]

79. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her views on proposals by an organisation (details supplied) to enable Irish citizens and organisations to cosponsor a family reunification application by means of a sponsorship scheme, whereby persons, community groups, church groups, businesses or similar could support an person's family reunification application, offering monetary support or support in kind, such as employment, housing and other integration opportunities. [40334/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 79 together.
Before the migrant crisis escalated, my predecessor introduced a Syrian Humanitarian Admissions Programme (SHAP) subject to certain conditions being met. This was replaced later with the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) which allows for Syrians and other nationalities to benefit from resettlement and relocation schemes, and offers them protection in Ireland in their own right. This is a much improved programme allowing thousands to benefit from protection here. Under the IRPP, the Red Cross has investigated a number of pledges of public support and these are appreciated. There has been a significant challenge at EU level to maximise the functioning of the resettlement and relocation programmes. We will be 100% ahead of target on resettlement when the programme ends next September and following my recent visit to Greece, I am satisfied that the number coming in under relocation will ramp up to agreed levels in 2017. I am not of the view that the best solution to this crisis is to increase the number of programmes and all the administrative and legal complexities that go with them. My emphasis is to increase the number of people arriving in Ireland under the programmes currently in place. I am satisfied that we are making that progress now and that there is still capacity to ensure more Syrians can come to Ireland under our resettlement and relocation programmes and all our focus needs to be on meeting these targets. I would encourage all community groups and individuals to continue to make contact with offers of support to the Red Cross and the Irish Refugee Protection Programme - these will be followed up and assessed promptly and can directly benefit the increased numbers of people we have committed to welcoming to Ireland next year.

Significant resources are currently being invested in these humanitarian efforts through the offices of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, the Office of the Promotion of Migrant Integration and the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. As a result we have developed mechanisms and associated expertise to deal with resettlement and relocation. Our response to the migrant crisis in terms of accepting refugees is through the IRPP and all available resources are being directed to that Programme in order to meet the commitment entered into and I have no plans, at this point, to introduce any additional admission programmes.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-19-01-2017-56http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-14-12-2016-76

PQ 8th December 2016


 41. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Syrian refugees resettled here in 2016; the anticipated number to be settled here during the first quarter of 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39289/16]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by Government Decision on 10 September 2015 as a direct response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Under this programme, the Government has pledged to accept a total of 4,000 persons into the State by the end of 2017, of whom 1,040 refugees (520 in 2015/2016 and 520 in 2017) will come to Ireland under the UNHCR led refugee resettlement programme currently focussed on resettling refugees from Lebanon.

The resettlement strand of the programme is focussing on cases displaced by the Syrian conflict into Lebanon and proposed to Ireland by UNHCR. Most but not all of the cases referred are Syrian. In 2016, 312 Syrian refugees were admitted. In total, 507 persons displaced by the Syrian conflict (448 of whom are Syrians) have arrived in Ireland from Lebanon since 4 August 2015 and a further 12 refugees (all Syrians) are scheduled to arrive from Lebanon in mid December 2016. By mid-December 2016, all but one of the quota of 520 resettled refugees for 2015/2016 are expected to have arrived

In addition, the Government recently announced that it is extending the resettlement programme to take in a further 520 refugees from Lebanon in 2017. 260 refugees have already been selected during a selection mission to Lebanon in October 2016 and are expected to arrive in Spring 2017. Most of these refugees are also Syrian. A further selection mission to Lebanon will be arranged in the coming months to select the remaining refugees due to come to Ireland in 2017 under the resettlement programme.

Link to reply on website - http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-08-12-2016-41

PQ 6th December 2016


99. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the efforts made on accepting refugees from the Syrian conflict and from Calais, France; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38815/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) established by Government Decision in September 2015, the Government pledged to accept a total of 4,000 persons into the State by the end of 2017, through a combination of the EU relocation mechanism established by two EU Council Decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece, and the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme currently focused on resettling refugees from camps in Lebanon.

The Refugee Resettlement strand is making excellent progress. 507 refugees have already arrived from Lebanon. 519 will have arrived by the end of December fulfilling our original quota a year ahead of the EU deadline of 8 December, 2017. To build on this early success I was pleased to announce last week that I am sending our fourth mission to Lebanon to arrange for a further 260 refugees to come to Ireland. This is in addition to an earlier commitment of 260 refugees due to arrive in the first half of 2017. The total additional commitment of a further 520 refugees in 2017 in effect doubles our original commitment to resettle refugees under this two year programme.

This latest decision reflects the Government's commitment to welcome vulnerable refugees fleeing war and conflict and is another positive step towards meeting our overall commitment to accept 4,000 persons. It also takes account of the slower than anticipated arrival of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy as a result of operational difficulties experienced by all countries in the initial establishment of the Relocation strand of the IRPP in those countries. However, following a highly productive visit by Irish officials to Greece earlier this year the frequency and numbers of arrivals has increased and is continuing to improve. Ireland has provided the Greek authorities with a full timetable for the acceptance, by end September 2017, of the entire cohort of asylum seekers allocated to Ireland under the relevant Council Decisions. Ireland has to date accepted 131 persons under the relocation strand. A further 127 persons are scheduled to arrive later this month with regular substantial monthly arrivals from Greece thereafter. The Greek programme is now working very well and Ireland expects to meet its full obligations to Greece.

The relocation of asylum seekers from Italy to Ireland has been hampered by technical issues which have been the subject of discussion up to ministerial level. It is hoped that the issues can be resolved in the near future which will allow the numbers being taken in under the IRPP to increase further.

An All Party Dáil motion approved by Government on 10 November last called on the Government to work with the French authorities to identify up to 200 unaccompanied minors previously living in the unofficial migrant camp in Calais and who have expressed a desire to relocate to Ireland. My Department is working with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on all matters arising from the commitments agreed in the recent Dáil motion. Both the French and British authorities and relevant NGOs have been contacted and information is awaited from NGOs in respect of children identified as wishing to relocate to Ireland. It is essential, if Ireland is identified as a location of choice for these young people, that services are in place and can cope with any such arrivals. We must ensure that we maintain the highest standards of international protection and care. The legal pathway for entry must also be robust to ensure that our actions fully comply with international best practice and protection law.

Link to reply on website - http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-06-12-2016-99

PQ 1st December 2016


129. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the approach that has been made to the French Government in order to locate the unaccompanied migrant children previously situated at the Calais camp and bring them here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38233/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can confirm that my Department is working with a number of Departments on all matters arising from the commitments agreed in the recent Dáil motion. Both the French and British authorities and relevant NGOs have been contacted and information is awaited from NGOs in respect of children identified as wishing to relocate to Ireland. It is essential, if Ireland is identified as a location of choice for these young people, that services are in place and can cope with any such arrivals. We must ensure that we maintain the highest standards of international protection and care. The legal pathway for entry must also be robust to ensure that our actions fully comply with international best practice and protection law.

Link to reply on website - http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PQ-01-12-2016-129

PQ 20th July 2016


91. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons to date that have been resettled under the various resettlement and relocation programmes in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23181/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Government’s decision to establish the Irish Refugee Protection Programme on 10 September 2015 was a direct response to the EU migrant crisis.

Of the 4,000 people committed to under the September 2015 Government decision, 2,622 are to be taken in under the EU relocation scheme from Italy and Greece and 780 (520 of whom will arrive by the end of 2016 and 260 in 2017) from Lebanon under the refugee resettlement programme. A decision has yet to be taken on the mechanism under which the remaining refugees will be taken.

Under the refugee resettlement programme, Ireland is taking programme refugees from Lebanon. Under the EU relocation scheme Ireland is taking asylum seekers from EU migration hotspots including Greece.
Programme
Arrivals to date
Cases processed and awaiting transfer to Ireland in the coming weeks
Resettlement273248
Relocation3832 (a further selection mission to accept a further 50 cases was completed in July 2016)

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2016072000072?opendocument#WRE01050

PQs 12th July 2016

171. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of refugees who have been accepted here in 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21186/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton):  I assume that the Deputy is referring to refugees and asylum seekers admitted under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

520 refugees are to be resettled in Ireland under the resettlement programme by 31 December 2017, of whom 273 have been admitted from Lebanon to date since 20 July 2015 (date of Council Conclusions on resettlement). 110 of these cases were admitted in 2016 to date. Sufficient cases were selected during a selection mission to Lebanon in January 2016 to fill the rest of the quota by the end of the summer. They have been security screened and are in the process of being health screened at present. They are expected to arrive between July and September.

It was recently announced that a selection team will be sent to Lebanon to select an additional 260 refugees under the Refugee Resettlement Programme for admission in 2017.

So far 38 Syrians have arrived in Ireland under the relocation programme. The slow pace of the relocation programme is mainly due to difficulties in getting migrants to register in Italy and Greece. The pace is expected to pick up significantly and the Greek authorities have agreed that they will double the numbers available for transfer to Ireland to 40 persons every 4 weeks with greater numbers of persons available later in the year.

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2016071200069?opendocument#WRK03100

PQs 17th May 2016


41. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality further to her announcement in September 2015, to comment on Ireland's progress of resettling refugees; her engagement with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to this and, in particular, her progress in resettling unaccompanied minor refugees, which she highlighted as a special priority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10130/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I assume that the Deputy is referring to the Government's decision to establish the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) on 10 September 2015 as a direct response to the EU migrant crisis. Under the programme, Ireland has agreed to accept 4,000 persons in total under resettlement and relocation programmes within a two-year period.

The figure of 4,000 includes approximately 2,600 asylum seekers to be taken in from migration hotspots in Italy and Greece under the new EU programme and 520 programme refugees from Lebanon, which the Irish Government has committed to taking in by the end of 2016 under Ireland's Refugee Resettlement programme. The mechanism by which the balance of the 4,000 will be admitted has yet to be decided by Government.

To date, a family of 10 Syrians has been relocated from Greece and very shortly another group of 31 Syrians will arrive in the State. A further 40 people are provisionally scheduled to arrive next month.

In relation to the Resettlement Programme, 263 programme refugees have been admitted to Ireland thus far. The balance of those being resettled in Ireland under this Programme were interviewed during a selection mission to the Lebanon in January 2016; they are currently being health-screened and are expected to arrive in Ireland between June and September 2016. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was consulted, as is customary in all cases being considered for resettlement in Ireland. Unaccompanied minors are not a feature of the Resettlement Programme which focuses on families.

As regards unaccompanied minors, statutory responsibility for the care of unaccompanied minors rests with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. My officials are in discussions with Tusla with a view to the State taking in unaccompanied minors under the EU relocation programme.

Link to reply on Oireachtas website -
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120. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality to request the office for promotion of migrant integration to enable access by the Amal Group of the Dublin Islamic Foundation of Ireland to the 23 families who are here under the resettlement and relocation programme, in order to provide religious and culturally appropriate support and assistance (details supplied). [10038/16]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): All refugees, whether resident in temporary accommodation in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres or in their own homes, are free to practise their religion or to engage with their religious organisations. Whether a person is resident in their own private home, or in a residential centre, it is up to each individual to decide with whom they wish to engage and on the level and extent of that engagement.

No restrictions have been placed on any organisation with regard to engagement with their congregation wherever they are resident, be it in their own homes or in the residential centres. However, religious organisations are not permitted to preach, teach or organise cultural or religious events in the residential centres. The Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres are "home" to persons of various religious beliefs and none. Religious organisations are free to invite residents to any religious or cultural events outside of their place of residence in the same way as if they were resident in their private homes.

With regard to visiting residents in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres, I am sure that you will agree, that the health, safety and privacy of the residents must be of primary concern. It is required under law to protect the identity of refugees. Therefore, it is imperative that persons visiting the centre, regardless of their background or religion, must be Garda vetted. To facilitate visitors, special arrangements have been put in place with Kildare Volunteer Services to organise Garda vetting for any person that wishes to visit the centre. Visiting must also be curtailed during special periods e.g. during mealtimes, or when children are sleeping and visiting is restricted to public areas to protect the privacy of the residents.

When visiting the centre, the visitor must be invited by a resident and the visitor is limited to meeting with that resident and must not disturb other residents. I am sure that you will agree that this is standard practice in any residential centre.

Donations to support the residents in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres are coordinated by local voluntary bodies. Kildare Volunteer Service accept donations for the Hazel Hotel, and the Centre Management accept donations in Dungarvan. If a person wishes to make a donation they can do so through those avenues. This guarantees an even distribution of gifts and donations to the residents in accordance with the residents' needs.

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PQs 22nd March 2016

Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality   to set down the number of Syrian refugees admitted here since the start of the war there five years ago; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4955/16]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):  Ireland is one of 27 States that participate in a refugee resettlement programme led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The focus of the Irish resettlement programme in recent years has been on the resettlement of refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict who are living in one of the hosting countries in the region, for example those living in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey. NGOs working in cooperation with the UNHCR at a local level identify the most vulnerable persons for resettlement, regardless of their race, religion, nationality or ethnicity.

 Resettlement is one of a suite of responses to persons displaced by the Syrian conflict. During 2015, 176 programme refugees were admitted into the State from Jordan and Lebanon of which 163 were part of the Government's pledge to admit 520 refugees as a part of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. A further 88 refugees were admitted from Lebanon in 2016 to date. The balance of the 520 were interviewed during a selection mission to Lebanon earlier this year. Arrangements for the admission of the remainder of this cohort are ongoing.

  In 2014, Ireland introduced a Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP). The SHAP offered naturalised Irish citizens of Syrian birth and Syrian nationals already legally resident in Ireland an opportunity to make an application for vulnerable close family members to join them in Ireland for up to two years under a sponsorship programme. These are persons who are considered by their sponsoring family member present in Ireland to be most at risk. In addition, Syrians legally resident in Ireland, for example, students or persons on work permissions may apply for an extension of their permission to remain in the State while the crisis situation continues. This Programme is an additional initiative in response to the crisis in Syria and is without prejudice to other avenues whereby by Syrian national might lawfully enter the State, such as family reunification for the family members of refugees and persons with subsidiary protection, and UNHCR's resettlement programme. It should be noted that 44 applications in respect of 119 persons were approved under the SHAP.

 The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was approved by Government Decision on 10 September 2015, in response to the migration crisis in Southern Europe. The Government has confirmed that Ireland would take in up to 4,000 persons by the end of 2017, in respect of relocation and resettlement refugees. This figure of 4,000 includes approximately 2,600 asylum seekers to be taken in from migration hot spots. To date, ten people have arrived in the State under the EU relocation programme. This single Syrian family were relocated from Greece at the end of January.

Under the national asylum procedure, the vast majority of Syrians who have applied for asylum in Ireland since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011 and whose applications have since been determined, have been declared to be refugees.
  A total of 107 Syrians have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection in Ireland since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011. These are applicants who were granted status having made applications for protection either within Ireland or at the frontiers of the State.

The Deputy will also appreciate that the EU is dealing with a rapidly changing political landscape with regard to the migration crisis in Southern Europe and the situation is likely to remain fluid for a period.


Link to reply on Oireachtas website -

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263. Deputy Thomas Pringle   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality   the timeline for Ireland to meet its commitment to offer shelter, protection and hope to 4,000 refugees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5301/16]
 264. Deputy Thomas Pringle   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality   if she will guarantee that Ireland’s commitment to offer shelter to 4,000 refugees will in not be affected by any new arrangement between the European Union and Turkey; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5302/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 263 and 264 together.

I assume the Deputy is referring to the Government's decision to establish the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) on 10 September 2015 as a direct response to the EU migrant crisis. Under the programme Ireland has agreed to accept 4,000 persons in total under resettlement and relocation programmes within a two year period. 

The figure of 4,000 includes approximately 2,600 asylum seekers to be taken in from migration hotspots in Italy and Greece under the new EU programme and 520 programme refugees from Lebanon and Jordan, which the Irish Government has committed to taking in by the end of 2016 under Ireland's Refugee Resettlement programme. The mechanism by which the balance of the 4,000 will be taken in, has yet to be decided by Government.

While the Government proposal is to accept all 4,000 persons within a two year period, this proposed timeframe is, to a great degree, dependant on external factors including the effectiveness of the measures put in place in migration hotspots in Greece and Italy to support the EU relocation mechanism and the rapidly changing political landscape at EU level. 

 It is not expected that Ireland’s commitment for a total of 4,000 refugees will be affected by the new arrangement between the European Union and Turkey although the mix of relocation and resettlement may be need to be adjusted.


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PQ 3rd November 2015


Deputy Michael McCarthy   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality   to set out her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the Syrian refugee crisis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37719/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):   On 13 May 2015, the European Commission published an EU Agenda for Migration. The Commission proposed the establishment of an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer 20,000 resettlement places by the end of 2016. Ireland has committed to accepting 520 persons for resettlement during the 2015/2016 period under this initiative. Ireland is one of 27 states worldwide that participate in a refugee resettlement programme led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). To be eligible for resettlement under this programme, a person must be a refugee, i.e. they must have left their country of origin and sought protection in another country. For example, refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict currently resident in Lebanon and Jordan would be eligible for resettlement whereas a person still resident in Syria would not.

The focus of the Irish resettlement programme in recent years has been on the resettlement of refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict. UNHCR, in cooperation with NGOs at a local level, identify the most vulnerable persons for resettlement purposes, regardless of their race, religion, nationality or ethnicity. UNHCR then proposes the cases to Ireland for consideration. Self referrals or referrals by other organisations or individuals do not form part of this programme.

The Resettlement team of the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration of my staff went to Lebanon on two occasions in 2015 and to Jordan on one occasion in 2014 to interview refugees for resettlement purposes. 397 persons, including Syrians and Iraqis of both Christian and Muslim faiths were selected for resettlement during those selection missions.

PQ 20th October 2015


Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality   further to correspondence (details supplied), if a response has been furnished to the person; if consideration has been given to the proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36138/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):   On 13 May 2015, the European Commission published an EU Agenda for Migration. The Commission proposed the establishment of an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer 20,000 resettlement places by the end of 2016. Under the new resettlement scheme, specific numbers would be allocated to all Member States, calculated on the basis of a distribution key based on GDP, size of population, unemployment rate and past numbers of asylum seekers and of resettled refugees. The distribution key would also take account of the efforts already made on a voluntary basis by Member States. The Commission's calculation envisaged Ireland accepting 272 persons over the 2015/2016 period.

Ireland had already committed to accept 220 persons over the 2015/16 period under its national resettlement programme. In response to the Commission's proposals, the Government agreed to accept an additional 300 persons bringing the total to be admitted to 520 persons by the end of 2016. Ireland is one of 27 states that participate in a refugee resettlement programme led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The focus of the Irish resettlement programme in recent years has been on the resettlement of refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict who are living in one of the hosting countries in the region, for example those living in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey. NGOs working in cooperation with the UNHCR at a local level identify the most vulnerable persons for resettlement, regardless of their race, religion, nationality or ethnicity. UNHCR then proposes the cases to Ireland for consideration. Self referrals or referrals by other organisations do not form part of this programme. A letter was recently issued to this effect to the correspondent.

PQ 14th July 2015


 436. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality   in response to the criticism from the United Nations Special Representative on Migration that Ireland is not accepting enough resettlement refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria, her plans to increase the numbers being accepted. [28426/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):   On 13 May 2015, the European Commission, published an EU Agenda for Migration. Among the measures proposed was the establishment of an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer 20,000 resettlement places. The Commission proposed that the scheme will cover all Member States, with the numbers suggested for each Member State calculated according to distribution criteria based on GDP, size of population, unemployment rate and past numbers of asylum seekers and of resettled refugees. It also takes account of the efforts already made on a voluntary basis by Member States.

The Commission's calculation envisaged Ireland accepting 272 refugees for resettlement between now and the end of 2016. While plans were already in place for the resettlement of 220 refugees in 2015/16, the Government agreed to accept an additional 300 refugees over and above that figure. A total of 520 refugees will therefore be admitted in 2015/2016, the majority of whom will be refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict.


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PQ 14th July 2015


462. Deputy Ruth Coppinger   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality   the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria who may arrive here; if she is aware of the position of the Circassian minority group; and if she has received any representations on their behalf. [28801/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):   On 13 May 2015, the European Commission published an EU Agenda for Migration. The Commission proposed the establishment of an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer 20,000 resettlement places by the end of 2016. Under the new resettlement scheme, specific numbers would be allocated to all Member States, calculated on the basis of a distribution key based on GDP, size of population, unemployment rate and past numbers of asylum seekers and of resettled refugees. The distribution key would also take account of the efforts already made on a voluntary basis by Member States. The Commission's calculation envisaged Ireland accepting 272 persons over the 2015/2016 period.

Ireland has already committed to accept 220 persons over the 2015/16 period. In response to the Commission's proposals the Government agreed to accept an additional 300 persons bringing the total to be admitted to 520 persons by the end of 2016, well above the figure suggested by the European Commission. Ireland is one of 27 States that participate in a refugee resettlement programme led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The focus of the Irish resettlement programme in recent years has been on the resettlement of refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict who are living in one of the hosting countries in the region, for example those living in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey. Internally displaced persons, such as the Circassians in Syria, are not eligible for resettlement under this resettlement programme. NGOs working in cooperation with the UNHCR at a local level identify the most vulnerable persons for resettlement, regardless of their race, religion, nationality or ethnicity.

Resettlement is just one of a suite of responses to persons displaced by the Syrian conflict. In 2014, Ireland introduced a Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP). The SHAP offered naturalised Irish citizens of Syrian birth and Syrian nationals already legally resident in Ireland an opportunity to make an application for vulnerable close family members to join them in Ireland for up to two years under a sponsorship programme. These are persons who are considered by their sponsoring family member present in Ireland to be most at risk. 114 beneficiaries have been granted admission under the programme. In addition, Syrians legally resident in Ireland, for example, students or persons on work permissions may apply for an extension of their permission to remain in the State while the crisis situation continues. I am informed by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) that 17 applications for refugee status were received from Syrian nationals in the first 6 months of 2015. Information is not maintained on the number of applications for refugee status received from members of the Circassian minority group.

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PQ 26th May 2015

483. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the 300 migrants who we have agreed to resettle, as part of the European Union plan to tackle the current migration crisis, will be automatically granted refugee status, or if they will be forced to go into direct provision as asylum seekers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19950/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): All persons admitted to Ireland for permanent resettlement are granted programme refugee status on arrival, in the normal course programme refugees are accommodated by the Reception and Integration Agency for a period to facilitate a language training and orientation programme and while accommodation is sourced in local communities.

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PQ 26th May 2015

551. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide a breakdown of the number of persons provided with resettlement as part of the Irish resettlement process for each year from 2009 to 2014 and in 2015 to date; and if the proposed 272 persons Ireland will accept under the mandatory European resettlement programme will have their status determined before arrival or will be required to apply for protection upon arrival here. [20851/15]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): On 13 May 2015, the European Commission, published an EU Agenda for Migration. The Agenda includes a number of proposals which will be considered by Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in June and subsequently by the European Council.

Among the measures proposed is the establishment of an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer 20,000 resettlement places. The Commission proposes that the scheme will cover all Member States, with the numbers suggested for each Member State calculated according to distribution criteria such as GDP, size of population, unemployment rate and past numbers of asylum seekers and of resettled refugees. It also takes account of the efforts already made on a voluntary basis by Member States.

The Commission's calculation envisages Ireland accepting 272 persons for resettlement between now and the end of 2016. While plans were already in place for the resettlement of 220 persons in 2015/16, I, having consulted with colleagues, have announced the Government's intention to accept an additional 300 persons over and above that figure. A total of 520 refugees will therefore be admitted in 2015/2016.

All persons admitted to Ireland for resettlement are granted programme refugee status on arrival.

The total number of persons resettled in Ireland during the period of 2009-2015 is 471. A breakdown of the numbers admitted is provided below and is also available on
www.integration.ie.
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015 to date
192203539769613

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PQ 19th February 2015


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