09 January 2017 - Irish Refugee Council welcome announcement of refugees coming to Ballaghaderreen but express concern at lack of prior engagement with community

The Irish Refugee Council today welcomed the imminent arrival of 80 Syrian refugees to Ballaghaderreen but expressed concern at the lack of prior engagement with the community.

Nick Henderson, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council said,

“It is heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive reception from people in Ballaghaderreen to this announcement. Many comments have recognised that people have fled persecution and a brutal war in Syria. Coming to Ballaghaderreen is another step in a long journey to safety that has included undertaking a dangerous voyage to Europe and living in very difficult conditions in Greece. This journey does not end once people arrive to Ireland so ensuring that they are welcomed and supported through this transition is essential.”

“However, a consistent theme in comments from people living in the community has been the lack of notice or consultation that was given. It is crucial that in circumstances such as these local communities are properly informed so that questions can be answered, a welcome prepared and services organised. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have happened in this case.”

“Around 3,200 refugees are due to be resettled and relocated to Ireland by the end of 2017. This is a significant humanitarian undertaking that we strongly commend but one that cannot be underestimated. It will only work if transparency and information are embedded in the process and resources given to all stakeholders. This includes resources to the Irish Refugee Protection Programme itself, local authorities and service providers and, very importantly, local volunteer groups and community organisations who will play a crucial role in the coming months.”

“Stay in this hotel is meant to be temporary and for a period of around six months. For this to be the case, resources are needed to ensure that there is adequate housing for this group of people and other marginalised and vulnerable groups. Support also needs to be given to people in Direct Provision who have been recognised as refugees but who cannot leave because they are struggling to secure rental accommodation against the backdrop of a wider housing crisis.”

“More generally, we also need to see a comprehensive integration strategy for Ireland that has the input of all stakeholders and recognises the needs of different people, including refugees who have arrived in this way. This strategy should include arrangements for how we manage and use the considerable number of offers of support and services to refugees made by the general public.”

- ENDS -

Caroline Reid, Communications Officer, 0858585510

Notes to editor

Relocation is the transfer of persons who are in need of international protection from one EU Member State (in this case Greece) to another EU Member State.

Resettlement is the transfer of recognised refugees from one country to another country that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement.

Transition from Direct Provision to life in the community_M NiRaghallaigh_M Foreman et al (2016)

Parliamentary Question response to progress on Relocation and Resettlement Programmes as of 16 December 2016