EU Resettlement Network

Ireland

    Source: ICMC Europe, Welcome to Europe! A comprehensive guide to resettlement, 2013

    The Welcome to Europe Ireland country chapter is available here for download.

    Resettlement Quota & Actors

    Start of ad-hoc or pilot programme: 1998
    Current quota: 90
    Main national actors: Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration (OPMI) in the Ministry for Justice and Equality, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Garda Siochána (Police), Garda National Immigration Burean, municipalities.

    Resettlement numbers

    Year  Arrivals Nationality⇒Country of Asylum of Largest Groups Ethnic and other minorities (if applicable)

    2014

    (anticipated)

    90    
    2013  86 Congolese (DRC) ⇒ Great Lakes Region  
    2012 49 DR Congolese (20) ⇒Tanzania Bembe
    2011 45 Sudanese (23) ⇒ Uganda; Iraqi (6); Ethiopia (6)  
    2010 20 Burmese (3) ⇒ Thailand Karen
    2009 192 Burmese (82) ⇒ Bangladesh; DR Congolese (84) ⇒ Tanzania Rohingya, Bembe

     

    UNHCR Submission categories considered for resettlement

    X Legal and physical protection needs

    X Survivors of violence and torture

    X Medical Needs

    X Women and girls at risk  

    X Family reunification

    Children and adolescents at risk

    X Lack of foreseeable alternative solutions

    UNHCR Priority levels accepted (with sub-quota where applicable)

    Emergency max. 7 days between submission and resettlement

    X Urgent  within 6 weeks between submission and resettlement

    X Normal  within 12 months between submission and resettlement

     

    Ireland's resettlement programme

    Legal basis and backgound

    Section 24 of the 1996 Refugee Act is the legal basis for resettlement in Ireland. It defines a ‘programme refugee’ (a refugee resettled to Ireland) as a person to whom leave to enter and remain has been given by the government for temporary protection or resettlement as part of a group of persons. Programme refugees have the same rights and entitlements as other refugees, set out in Section 3 of the Refugee Act.

    Resettlement criteria

    Basic criteria

    • The primary applicant and all family members included in the application satisfy the definition of ‘programme refugee’ set out in the legislation.
    • UNHCR must verify that the primary applicant and all family members included in the application have a genuine need for resettlement.
    • The exclusion criteria of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees must not apply to the primary applicant or any family members included in the application.
    • The primary applicant or a family member may be excluded if he/she is deemed to be a threat to national health, public order or national security, or where there are serious concerns regarding the declared identity of the primary applicant or a family member or of their stated relationship.

    Ireland does not accept unaccompanied children or unaccompanied elders for resettlement.

    Criteria related to integration

    The Irish government considers the integration capacity of local communities, such as the ability to provide services required by special needs cases and the availability of interpreters in the spoken language of the primary applicant and family members, within the resettlement selection process.

    Identification and Selection

    Ireland considers cases submitted by UNHCR. Since 2008, due to the smaller caseloads accepted, Ireland does not carry out selection missions, as recommended by UNHCR. The Minister for Justice and Equality, in consultation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and UNHCR, decides on an annual basis the country of origin/refuge of the persons to be resettled. Where required, relevant government departments and national service providers are consulted during the selection process. For example, the Health Service Executive is consulted when medical cases are submitted for consideration.

    Refugee Status, Permanent Residency & Citizenship

    Refugees resettled in Ireland are granted ‘programme refugee’ status, which carries the same rights and entitlements as persons granted refugee status through the asylum system. A Certificate of Registration valid for one year is issued to all refugees upon arrival and must be renewed annually. Programme refugees may apply for citizenship after 3 years of residency in Ireland, a significantly shorter period than the 5 years residency required of citizenship applicants from other migrant groups.

    Family reunification

    A resettled refugee may apply for family reunification for a member of their family under the same terms and conditions as a persons granted asylum under the Geneva Convention. A member of the family is a spouse, and children under 18 years of age who are not married. There is Ministerial discretion to admit parents or grandparents, siblings, children or grandchildren, a ward or guardian of the applicant who is dependent on the refugee or is suffering from a mental or physical disability to such an extent that is not reasonable for him or her to maintain themselves fully.

    Resettlement in Practice

    Linking Phases

    How is information transferred between selection and reception of refugees in order to prepare for their arrival?

    • Briefing stakeholders after selection through missions or dossiers:

      During the selection phase, a profile of the group due to arrive is compiled, including information about individual families and the history of the conflict that led to the particular refugee situation. This information is shared with the national Resettlement Inter-Departmental Working Group led by the OPMI and with the local service providers and support agencies.

    • Forwarding pertinent information from Refugee Referral Form (RRF) to integration actors:

      The resettlement programme is coordinated at a national level by the Resettlement Unit of the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration (OPMI) in the Ministry for Justice and Equality, which passes case profiles, background information on the specific refugee situation and a broad overview of special needs amongst the refugee group to local actors in the receiving municipality. Medical and other professionals in the reception centre pass information through their own networks to local practitioners.

    • Sharing of information gathered during Cultural Orientation (CO):

      Refugees receive a post-arrival CO programme in the reception centre (see ‘Reception’, below) comprising 8-12 weeks of language and orientation courses delivered by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs). As part of this work, the ETB develops educational profiles of all participants and passes these to local education professionals.

    • Special Needs:

      The OPMI passes all information with regard to special needs to relevant service providers, generally pre-arrival. Where cases are accepted on the basis of medical needs, special arrangements are made by the OPMI in advance of arrival to ensure that prompt pre-arrival assessments and urgent treatment are provided.

    Pre-departure

    Cultural orientation: cases are selected on a dossier basis only, and do not receive pre-departure CO.

    Medical exam: IOM (health screening and 'fit-to-fly' examinations).

    Travel arrangements: ICRC issues travel documents for refugees selected for resettlement on behalf of the Irish government. IOM organises flights, exit visas and in-transit assistance. Irish entry visas are processed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of the Department of Justice and Equality and are issued by the closest Irish embassy in the region.

    Integration in Practice

    Reception

    All resettled refugees are initially accommodated in a reception centre for a period of 8-12 weeks before they travel to more permanent housing in municipalities. During this time, new arrivals are provided with an 8-12 week post-arrival CO programme, delivered by the ETB and comprising cultural, civic and language courses.

    Previously resettled refugees may have the opportunity to visit the new arrivals during their stay in the reception centre to exchange their experiences of resettlement and life in Ireland. Where refugees are being resettled outside of the Capital, they are taken to visit their future resettlement town while resident in the centre. This gives them the opportunity to ask questions and gather information about their new home.

    Placement policies

    The OPMI chairs an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Resettlement and Integration (IDWG) to plan and oversee post-arrival arrangements for resettlement. Using a broad range of criteria, including population size, availability of services and future employment opportunities, the OPMI selects the resettlement location. One of the key features of the resettlement programme is the establishment of a local Resettlement Inter-Agency Working Group in the receiving municipality, mirroring the structure of the national Working Group, to coordinate the planning and operation of the local resettlement programme. The Chair of the Working Group also acts as the point of local contact with the OPMI in both the pre and post-arrival phases of the programme.

    The OPMI provides municipalities with funding for an interpreter for the initial period after refugees’ arrival. Where resettlement is taking place in a small community, funding is provided by the OPMI for a full/part time Resettlement Support Worker. In addition funding may also be provided for a full/part time Intercultural Worker who can act as an intercultural and language interpreter where the resettled group is considered to be particularly vulnerable.

    Receiving municipalities are generally smaller towns with populations of 4-10,000 people. Placement is also driven by the Irish government’s belief that smaller communities can offer a better welcome and support to resettled refugees. To date, refugees have been resettled in 18 different towns and cities, 17 of which are outside the capital city Dublin. The OPMI aims to promote better long-term integration by allocating one arrival group of the same national, ethnic and/or cultural background at a time to a local community. Generally, Irish municipalities receive just one arrival group each, although second and third resettlements have exceptionally taken place in the same community in cases where refugees from the same country of origin or with a common language are being resettled.

    When selecting a receiving community, OPMI considers if all services required by new arrivals will be available to them. Serious medical cases are generally placed in a city close to a hospital, and individual cases are also usually resettled in a city where they can develop links with other communities from their region. Persons with special needs are placed as close as possible to the service(s) they require, while persons admitted as part of a group of five or more families are generally placed in a town outside of the capital.

    Integration services & support

    Length: up to 18 months

    The OPMI chairs an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Resettlement and Integration (IDWG) to plan and oversee post-arrival arrangements for resettlement. Using a broad range of criteria, including population size, availability of services and future employment opportunities, the OPMI selects the resettlement location. One of the key features of the resettlement programme is the establishment of a local Resettlement Inter-Agency Working Group in the receiving municipality, mirroring the structure of the national Working Group, to coordinate the planning and operation of the local resettlement programme. The Chair of the Working Group also acts as the point of local contact with the OPMI in both the pre and post-arrival phases of the programme.

    The OPMI provides municipalities with funding for an interpreter for the initial period after refugees’ arrival. Where resettlement is taking place in a small community, funding is provided by the OPMI for a full/part time Resettlement Support Worker. In addition funding may also be provided for a full/part time Intercultural Worker who can act as an intercultural and language interpreter where the resettled group is considered to be particularly vulnerable.

    Receiving municipalities are generally smaller towns with populations of 4-10,000 people. Placement is also driven by the Irish government’s belief that smaller communities can offer a better welcome and support to resettled refugees. To date, refugees have been resettled in 18 different towns and cities, 17 of which are outside the capital city Dublin. The OPMI aims to promote better long-term integration by allocating one arrival group of the same national, ethnic and/or cultural background at a time to a local community. Generally, Irish municipalities receive just one arrival group each, although second and third resettlements have exceptionally taken place in the same community in cases where refugees from the same country of origin or with a common language are being resettled.

    When selecting a receiving community, OPMI considers if all services required by new arrivals will be available to them. Serious medical cases are generally placed in a city close to a hospital, and individual cases are also usually resettled in a city where they can develop links with other communities from their region. Persons with special needs are placed as close as possible to the service(s) they require, while persons admitted as part of a group of five or more families are generally placed in a town outside of the capital.

    Use of the European Refugee Fund (ERF)

    Persons resettled using 2012 ERF funding

    X Persons resettled under a Regional Protection Programme

    Unaccompanied minors

    Women and children at risk; particularly from psychological physical or sexual violence or exploitation

    X Persons with serious medical needs that can only be addressed through resettlement

    Pledges made to resettle under ERF specific categories for 2013

    X Persons resettled from a country or region designated for the implementation of a Regional Protection Programme

    Women and children at risk

    Unaccompanied minors

     Survivors of torture and violence

    X Persons with serious medical needs that can only be addressed through resettlement

    Persons in need of emergency resettlement or urgent resettlement for legal or physical protection needs

    Pledges made to resettle under ERF resettlement common EU priorities for 2013

    X Congolese refugees in the Great Lakes Region

    X Refugees from Iraq in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan - 100 accepted in 2012

    Afghan refugees in Turkey, Pakistan, Iran

    Somali refugees in Ethiopia

    Burmese refugees in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand

    Eritrean refugees in Eastern Sudan

     

    Evaluations

    Several evaluations of the Irish resettlement programme have been carried out. One evaluation was completed in 2008 in the framework of Ireland’s participation in MOST, a transnational project funded by the European Refugee Fund and led by the Ministry of Labour in Finland. The final project report made several recommendations for pre-departure orientation that have since been implemented, and highlighted the positive impact of mentoring, befriending and sports initiatives for long-term integration.

    Another evaluation, completed in 2011, was commissioned by Carlow Council Development Board to provide a ‘systematic assessment of the Carlow Rohingya Resettlement Programme’. In-depth interviews with resettled refugees and local service providers highlighted successful aspects of the programme including strong local partnerships, volunteering and befriending and the positive engagement of local media. Interviews also highlighted factors that presented challenges for refugees’ integration, including inadequate interpreting resources (particularly for health services) and specific challenges for older refugee teenagers.

    Strengths & Challenges

    Strengths

    • Ahead of resettled refugees’ arrival the OPMI supports the establishment of a local Resettlement Inter-Agency Working Group comprising service providers and other stakeholders in the resettlement process. This approach ensures existing local partnerships are mobilised for the benefit of resettlement, that the local community takes responsibility for the integration process, and that new partners that have not previously collaborated are brought together to address issues as they arise using a partnership approach. It also provides a clear, single point of contact for local resettlement support workers and for central government, and can constitute a vehicle for joint funding bids and evaluation exercises.
    • The national and local Working Groups provide an ongoing framework for interagency working after refugees’ arrival, facilitating early notification of challenges and problems and enabling timely joint responses by all partners.

    Challenges

    Due to the financial crisis, the number of resettled refugees received by Ireland has decreased substantially in recent years, from 192 in 2009 to 49 in 2012. While the Irish government has increased numbers to be resettled to 80 refugees during 2013, the ongoing impact of the financial crisis provides an extremely challenging context for the future of the Irish resettlement programme.

    New Developments

    For 2013, 80 refugees will be accepted for resettlement to Ireland. This total comprises 50 persons under the annual quota, including four families (approximately 20 persons) accepted under the medical resettlement programme, and a further 30 persons in response to a UNHCR appeal for resettlement places for non-Iraqi refugees resident in Syria. The resettlement of the latter group of 30 will be funded by the EU Preparatory Action for Emergency Resettlement. A further 10 Somali refugees will arrive from Malta as part of intra-EU relocation, bringing the total number relocated from Malta since 2007 to 40 persons. For 2014, Ireland has pledged 90 resettlement places for refugees from Syria in response to the crisis in the region. More information on this can be found here

    Resources & news

    Other Programmes/Projects

    In an effort to improve resettlement practices and learn from international experiences, Ireland participated in two EU funded trans-national projects from 2004 -2007. The MORE (Modelling of National Resettlement Process and Implementation of Emergency Measures) and MOST (Modelling of Orientation, Services and Training related to Resettlement and Reception of Refugees) projects examined various aspects of resettlement and developed models of good practice. Ireland's activities in the MOST project focused on the reception and settlement of refugees. Activities involved interviewing refugees concerning the CO programme in Ireland. Refugee participation in identifying best practices and recommendations for improvement was central to this portion of the MOST project, in addition to meetings with agency and NGO actors. As a result of this study, Ireland has extended the post-arrival CO programme from four weeks to eight weeks and is currently restructuring the language programme. Ireland is currently involved in a trans-national project funded under the Community Actions Strand of the ERF, Transnational Resettlement UK and Ireland (TRUKI). The Government of the United Kingdom is a leading partner, with Belgium, Bulgaria and Slovenia as observing members. This new initiative is designed to examine the feasibility, advantages and disadvantages of joint resettlement missions and resettlement programmes involving two or more Member States in 2008 and 2009. The project will jointly develop a practical and cost-effective approach to carry out cross-border resettlement. TRUKI aims to enable positive settlement outcomes for refugees involved and develop a practical support mechanism for emerging resettlement countries.

    Resources

    UNHCR Resettlement Handbook, Ireland Country Chapter, June 2013 revision [Read more]

    Latest news

    • On Wednesday, 12 March 2014, in response to an approach by members of the Syrian community in Ireland and in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria, the Irish government announced the launch of the "Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme" (SHAP). [Read more]
    • Newstalk - Audio: Ireland to take 90 Syrian refugees - 16 December 2013