PRESS STATEMENT: Refugees resettled in Ireland denied their legal rights

Posted On: 15 December 2015

15th December 2015

On the 60th anniversary of Ireland becoming a member of the United Nations, refugees recognised by the UN and selected for residence in Ireland have been denied their legal entitlement to full social welfare payment according to information confirmed by the Irish Refugee Council and Doras Luimní.

The first refugees started arriving a few months ago and were placed in Hazel Hotel, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, but, contrary to their legal entitlement to full social welfare, they have only been receiving allowances of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child, the allowances for asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their protection or leave to remain applications.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question from Thomas Pringle TD on 9th December, Kevin Humphreys, Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, whilst stating that individual payments to residents at Hazel Hotel were between the Department and individuals, confirmed their entitlement to a variety of payments, including supplementary welfare allowance and, if relevant, child benefit.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said:

“The government heralded the establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme as part of its contribution to the refugee crisis in Europe and was at pains to distinguish it from the discredited Direct Provision system.  It is clear that refugees arriving in Ireland, people with full refugee status before arrival in the country, are being denied their full entitlement, calling into question the legality of the decisions by the Department of Social Protection and demonstrating that the new Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres are in fact no different to Direct Provision centres.”

Leonie Kerins, Co-Director of Doras Luimní which works with both asylum seekers and resettled programme refugees, said

“the denial of the full entitlement to social welfare for programme refugees is a fundamental breach of their rights.  Refugees need to begin to regain control over their own lives as soon as possible on their arrival in the state and that it currently is being denied to them. This must have been a conscious decision and it is essential that their full social welfare entitlement is re-instated immediately.”

Conlan added:

“Ireland’s track record on human rights abroad needs to be matched by the treatment of people in Ireland.  The many Irish people that have, in words and action, made it clear that “refugees are welcome in Ireland” will not see this as a proper Irish response to the current crisis.”


Contact Details:

Sue Conlan CEO, Irish Refugee Council, 085 803 0114
Karen McHugh
Co-Director Doras Luimní, 087 977 5080
Leonie Kerins Co-Director Doras Luimní, 087 744 7961



Programme or resettled refugees are people who have already been recognised as refugees by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.  Those arriving in Ireland this year and since the announcement by the Minister for Justice have come from refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.  They do not need to go through the asylum process but are able to access employment and social welfare from the outset.  In announcing the government’s decision to opt-in to the resettlement of refugees and relocation of asylum seekers on 10th September 2015, Minister of Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, confirmed the legal entitlement of refugees to access social welfare.

From the Department of Justice announcement of 10 September 2015 about the establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme:

“The Minister also reaffirmed the current legal position whereby persons who are assessed and granted refugee status will be entitled to full State services such as right to work, welfare and education.”

Full statement here

PQ and Answer, 9.12.15

No: 50 Ref No: 44362-15

To the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the amount paid in allowances directly to adult programme refugees and dependants residing in a hotel (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.                   – Thomas Pringle.

Hazel Hotel in County Kildare

Re p l y

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Kevin Humphreys TD)

“A number of programme refugees are currently resident in Kildare.  Programme refugees are generally entitled to supports under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, including weekly payments, assistance under the exceptional needs payments (ENP) scheme and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. Depending on the circumstances of the individual or family, payment of the relevant social welfare payment appropriate to their circumstances may also be payable including child benefit. ENPs are generally payable to assist meeting essential expenditure such as clothing, child related items and other incidental requirements.    

The Department assesses the value of the non-cash benefits provided by the State to persons residing in the system of direct provision when determining rates of social welfare payments. This may result in a reduction of the weekly amount payable taking into account that basic requirements such as food, accommodation and other services are provided.

“The amount paid to the individual families in the hotel referred to by the Deputy is a matter between the individuals and the Department.”