5 December 2018 - Oxfam Ireland, Nasc and the Irish Refugee Council urge TDs to show support and keep families together this Christmas. A Bill that will enable refugees living in Ireland to be reunited with their dependent loved ones will progress to the Dáil tomorrow (Thursday 6 December) – seven months since it passed through all stages in the Seanad with cross-party support.

The Bill, which was introduced in the Seanad by Senator Colette Kelleher and members of the Civil Engagement Group, will now move to Second Stage in the Dáil, introduced by TD Fiona O’Loughlin of Fianna FáilIt must pass through all five stages to be enacted into law.

The Bill is also supported by Oxfam Ireland, Nasc – The Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre and the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) who are urging TDs to keep families forced to flee together this Christmas by supporting the legislation.

The International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017 seeks to amend the International Protection Act of 2015 and return to the family reunification provisions in the Refugee Act 1996.

The 2015 Act narrowed the definition of family for refugees to a spouse and any children under 18. This means refugees living in Ireland remain separated from their children over 18, civil partners, siblings, parents, grandparents and guardians. Many of these families have already been traumatised by violence and persecution in their home countries.

Oxfam Ireland, Nasc and the IRC have produced research which highlights the personal stories behind the legislation and details the devastating impact family separation has on individuals and on their ability to rebuild their lives as part of the community here in Ireland.

One refugee from Central African Republic said,

“Family separation is a break, it is a wound that I don’t have any words to describe. It is terrible, you feel it. And when you put the family together you can’t find a word to describe the happiness because it is the way it just has to be, it is complete. A family belongs together.”

Homayoon from Afghanistan said,

“My children and I feel heart broken and lost since my mother still hasn’t been granted permission to join us in Ireland.  Our children were gifts to my mother in Afghanistan. Her health has deteriorated due to stress and the tension of separation. The children call their granny and ask her why she cannot fly to Ireland as they miss her, but they do not understand yet that visa restrictions keep their granny away from them.”

Senator Colette Kelleher said,

“Ireland must play its part in relieving the suffering of unprecedented levels of refugees all over the world. The ‘Family Reunification’ bill allows for a compassionate response from the State. This modest change will make a huge difference to the lives of those people whose families have been torn apart, through no fault of their own.”

Oxfam Ireland, Nasc and the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) are asking the public to send a Christmas card to their local TDs urging them to support the Bill and keep families together. For more information see – Keep Families Together This Christmas.

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