Charities call on Government to allow more refugees into Ireland

A coalition of charities and rights groups has said that Ireland should take in significantly more than 1,800 refugees.

Sixteen groups insisted the crisis across Europe must made a priority for Ireland when the Cabinet holds a special meeting on it tomorrow.

Charities call on Government to allow more refugees into Ireland

In an eight-point plan the group demanded Taoiseach Enda Kenny accept that more people fleeing persecution need to be accepted on Irish shores.

“Failure to act now will lead to increased loss of life and continued suffering for people fleeing war, poverty and persecution. Ireland needs to act with courage and conviction in this time of need,” the group said.

The public is calling for it, civil society is calling for it, and humanity demands it.”

The coalition is made up of Oxfam, Trocaire, ActionAid Ireland, Comhlamh, Christian Aid Ireland, Community Workers’ Co-operative, Conference of Religious in Ireland, Crosscare, Dochas, European Network against Racism, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Irish Missionary Union, Irish Refugee Council, Mayo Intercultural Action, Mercy International Association and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.

It called for Ireland’s quota of refugees to be based on fact – capacity, funding, percentage share as an EU member state.

But it said the Government must also recognise that the influx of people fleeing war, dysfunctional states, persecution and disastrous economies is a humanitarian crisis which requires exceptional measures.

The coalition said Ireland should not differentiate between officially recognised refugees and anyone seeking protection.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that Ireland's response will have to fit in with how the rest of Europe acts.

"I think it's important that there be a sort of European model put in place here for dealing with the scale and the numbers that are going to come through," he said.

"Obviously we will refer to this today but we'll have a special Cabinet meeting tomorrow where I hope we can make decisions about having an effective, workable, humanitarian response to what it is we can actually do."

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said that any money that Ireland and other countries spend on refugees should not be included in deficit targets.

"That's what I’d certainly seek - I think that's a reasonable thing to do," he said.

"This is a new issue on the European horizon, it's one that I think every European state will be required to measure up to.

"Obviously there will be a cost factor in welcoming refugees to Ireland, in providing them with accommodation and supports."

Last week plans to increase the intake from 600 to at least 1,800 were announced with Tánaiste Joan Burton later suggesting the final figure should be in the thousands.

In other recommendations the charity coalition also urged the Irish Navy to extend its role in the Mediterranean search and rescue mission beyond the November deadline.

It accused the Government of being out of touch with public sentiment and inadequately responding to overwhelming support for more refugees to be taken in.

More than 37,000 people have signed a petition to the Taoiseach calling for thousands of refugees to brought to Ireland while thousands of people have also pledged a bed to anyone who arrives in Ireland seeking refuge or asylum.

The coalition called on the Government to show leadership ahead of the European justice meeting on the crisis next Monday.

It also urged a more transparent and accelerated process of relocation and resettlement for refugees with clear guidelines and time frames in place while legal channels of migration to Ireland and across the European Union are expanded through humanitarian visas and less rigid family reunification measures.

The charities also called for the immediate suspension of the return mechanism of the Dublin regulation in Ireland and for decisive actions to provide appropriate reception accommodation in a community setting.

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