Ireland welcomes 4,000 refugees over 2 years

The Irish government have agreed to welcome 4,000 refugees over the next two years, as part of the new Irish Refugee Protection Programme. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said, “Ireland will offer a welcome safe haven for families and children who have been forced to leave their homes due to war and conflict.”



Ireland’s Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald – Image from Frances Fitzgerald Facebook

However, the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has said that Ireland has the potential to accommodate up to 40,000 refugees. Sue Conlan, head of the IRC, has warned that refugees accepted into Ireland are at risk of being placed into direct provision.

“If people are being relocated as asylum seekers within the EU, the only provision for them in Ireland at the moment is direct provision and it is a form of institutionalisation.”She has said that former military barracks would not suffice as appropriate long-term accommodation for refugees.

“If former military barracks are not a form of institution equivalent to direct provision, I don’t know what they are,” she said. Conlan has also criticised the government’s engagement with civil society groups, when dealing with the crisis.

“We might be the Irish Refugee Council, but we don’t have a clue what is happening because it is only interdepartmental,” she said. “It’s government talking to government. They are not talking to others who might be able to assist.”

Meanwhile, it is estimated that it will cost Ireland €48 million to accommodate refugees, under the new EU relocation programme.

 Minister of State Simon Harris has said, “Already, [European Union] President [Jean-Claude] Juncker indicated that there will be part funding coming from the European Union.”

“The cost to Ireland – and I don’t like talking to this in terms of costs because we are talking about people’s lives – of accommodating 4,000 refugees is in or around €48 million.”

The European Investment Bank (EIB) confirmed that it would assist in financing infrastructure in terms of housing, and also the educational and medical needs of refugees. EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has advised countries to consider both the long-term benefits and short-term budgetary costs of accepting refugees.

“The economic impact should not be just looked at in terms of cost. In economic terms, it is also a resource, a human resource. Our countries need migration,” he said. EU Ministers met in Brussels on September 23rd to discuss a proposal to relocate 120,000 refugees within the EU’s 28 member states.

 The proposal was passed by a “crushing majority,” according to French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, with four countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania) rejecting the plan. Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec tweeted, “We will soon realise that the emperor has no clothes. Common sense lost today.”

Slovenian prime minister said in an interview with Reuters, “If we fail to find the right solution in the long term, the migrant crisis could truly threaten the existence of the European Union.”Ireland’s Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald had no vote at the summit, due to Ireland’s opt-out of EU law governing justice and asylum policy.

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