01 November 2016 - On the eve of the Dáil motion to discuss the fate of hundreds of child refugees stranded in Calais, the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) Social Work and Migration Special Interest Group and the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) call on the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality to honour the Government’s commitment to relocate refugees stranded in camps throughout Europe, especially unaccompanied children, without delay. Following the recent demolition and further displacement of refugees at Calais, there is serious concern for the protection of children.

IASW Special Interest Group Chairperson Susan Lewandowski said,

“Social workers in Ireland believe that the Irish State can and should do more for unaccompanied children stranded in Calais, Greece, Italy and beyond. Social workers in Ireland want to vocalise their solidarity with fellow colleagues operating at the frontiers of Europe. They are doing incredible work with such limited resources and unprecedented numbers. This demonstrates the fact that if the will is there, progress can be made.”

Lewandowski went on to say, 

“We believe that innovative solutions can be found to ensure that unaccompanied children can be cared for appropriately within the Irish context. We have the capacity to care for these young people using a wide range of care options, including residential care, supported lodgings and foster care. As such we can set an example for the rest of Europe in this regard”

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council stated,

“The Irish Refugee Council joins the IASW, and a wide range of groups and individuals, calling for the Irish Government to provide refuge to children seeking protection who are currently living in the camp in Calais but also elsewhere in Europe. This situation is an emergency that requires quick intervention as vulnerable children are at risk of trafficking and exploitation.”

He continued,

“This is also an opportunity to build on the critical assistance given by Irish volunteers working in Calais. The ‘Dubs’ amendment in the UK shows that humanitarian intervention in this way is possible, that claims of state sovereignty are inappropriate and that there is precedent for another State to assist children in Calais.”

Henderson went on to say,

“There are people out there who are willing to open up their homes to child refugees and we frequently receive emails and calls from members of the public including individuals, couples and families, expressing their will to actively respond to this crisis. If people can make such significant offers of support, then surely as a nation we can do much more to help young people who are so far from their home and normal support networks.”

- ENDS -


Caroline Reid, Communications Officer with IRC, 0858585510

Available for interview

Muireann Ní Raghallaigh, IASW Spokesperson

Nick Henderson, IRC CEO

The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) is the professional body for registered social workers in the Republic of Ireland. This statement was issued by the IASW Social Work and Migration Special Interest Group

Civil society mobilisation

Not on our Watch

Not On Our Watch Vigil, 2nd November, 7pm, Dáil Eireann

The Dubs Amendment

The ‘Dubs amendment’ was an amendment to the UK’s Immigration Act 2016 proposed by Lord Alf Dubs,  which obligates the UK to make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.


Children now make up 40% of the people forcibly displaced worldwide. In Europe alone at least 10,000 unaccompanied children have gone missing or disappeared in 2015 according to Europol. Between January and August of this year over 16,000 unaccompanied children arrived to the shores of Italy.

In 2015 over a million people, many of whom are fleeing the conflict in Syria, risked their lives in the hopes of finding safety in Europe. This is just a small percentage of the millions of refugees displaced by war and conflict worldwide, most of whom are hosted by countries in the global South. In response, the Irish Government has promised to host 4,000 refugees. As of a the 5th of October according to a Department of Justice Press Release, 486 programme refugees were accepted under resettlement and 69 people were relocated from Greece to Ireland, of which only one is an unaccompanied child.