The Immigrant Council of Ireland has said a fair and efficient process needs to be in place when refugees arrive here from the Middle East, as confusion remained over the numbers expected here.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is to bring a memo to Cabinet tomorrow setting out Ireland's plan to accept refugees.
The council's comments came after Tánaiste Joan Burton said yesterday that the number of refugees Ireland would welcome will increase dramatically.
She said a figure of 5,000 refugees for Ireland was "in the mix" and that people would enter Ireland under a refugee programme rather than through the direct provision system.
However, there is some confusion around the number of refugees Ireland may accept, with the UN asking for only 520 Syrians to be resettled here.
The Government is also preparing for a separate request from the EU to take in an anticipated 1,800 refugees who need to be relocated from temporary camps scattered around mainland Europe.
In theory, and as reported in the
Jerry O'Connor from the ICI said it was clear the numbers would increase, and that the rights of refugees needed to be a priority.
"We are in the process of beefing up our resources at our independent law centre, so that when the refugees arrive here they can have access to free legal representation so they can attain their rights," he said. "This has to be a priority now that we know the numbers are going to increase."
The UN High Commission for Refugees confirmed the only plan in place was for the 520 recognised refugees in camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey to be resettled in Ireland.
Sophie Magennis, head of the UNHCR’s Irish office said: “It’s up to the Irish authorities if they decide that they want to increase the resettlement quota. That would be fine. But under the resettlement programme at the moment, Ireland’s commitment is to taking 520.”
The Department of Justice, which is expected to take the lead in co-ordinating the Government’s response, had no information about the Tánaiste’s ambitious targets.
Of the numbers intended to come under UN resettlement, the department said: “That particular figure remains at 520. Four such refugees arrived from Lebanon on Monday, 24 August, 2015. A further 72 refugees (15 families) displaced by the Syrian conflict will arrive from Lebanon in September.”
Ms Burton’s spokesperson attempted to clarify the Tánaiste’s position last night, saying: “The Tánaiste was talking in the round about the overall number of refugees that Ireland may take over a multi-year period between both programmes.”