Dáil Questions: Refugees

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QUESTION NO: 108

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 31st May, 2016.
* To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the steps she is taking to speed up the re-settlement of refugees in Ireland, through re-location and re-settlement programmes, given that Ireland has taken only a small number of refugees over the past year out of the 4,000 agreed; and the consideration that has been given to increasing the number of refugees Ireland has agreed to re-settle, given that the global refugee crisis is continuing to worsen.

– Clare Daly

REPLY.
The Deputy will be aware that under last September’s Government decision which established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP), approximately 2,600 asylum seekers are to be taken in from migration hotspots in Italy and Greece under the new EU relocation programme and 520 refugees are being taken in from Lebanon under Ireland’s Refugee Resettlement programme. The mechanism by which the balance of the 4,000 will be decided by Government shortly.
In relation to the Resettlement Programme, Ireland is on schedule with regard to its commitment to take in 520 programme refugees with 273 refugees having arrived to date and the remaining 247 scheduled to arrive by the end of 2016.

The pace at which asylum seekers have arrived under the relocation part of the programme has been regrettably slow due to issues outside of Ireland’s control, such as resource issues on the ground and the unwillingness of migrants to apply for asylum at migration hotspots – a pre-requisite for entering the relocation programme. Ireland has made pledges to Italy and Greece totalling 101 persons, but due to these issues only 10 have been relocated to the State thus far, a single Syrian family who arrived in January. Officials of my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been working closely with authorities in both States and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to help resolve problems at migration hotspots in the hope of speeding up the allocation of people to Ireland under relocation. A further 31 Syrians are expected to be relocated to the State from Greece during June and another 40 are expected towards the end of July. Thereafter the Greek authorities have indicated they could allocate approximately 40 asylum seekers to Ireland every 8 weeks, however, the State has indicated to Greece that we are willing to take in people in larger groups if they are able to supply them.