Less than half of €15m fund for refugees drawn down

Less than half of the €15m in EU funds available to Ireland between 2007 and 2012 to support groups working with migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees was drawn down.

In the period, Ireland was allocated over €8m under the European Refugee Fund (ERF) and approximately €7m under the European Integration Fund (EIF).

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said in the period 2008 to 2012, 48% of the funding allocation under the ERF was drawn down, and that between 2007 and 2012, Ireland drew down 46% of the funding allocation under the EIF.

The department said “not enough suitable projects” came forward with necessary match-funding, which has to be sourced by projects.

Allocations not drawn down remained with the EU, the department said.

Edel McGinley, director of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said:

“I am actually quite shocked to learn that this money wasn’t drawn down. Resources were scarce during the deep austerity years and everyone was struggling for money. Entire communities could have benefited from this money.”

The ERF is intended for NGOs and other bodies to implement integration initiatives with a focus on areas such as education, health, community development, promoting access to services and provision of training for service providers.

The EIF is to support initiatives for newly-arrived and legally resident Non-EU Nationals (excluding asylum seekers and refugees) of different cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, to facilitate their integration into Irish society.

The office for the promotion of migrant integration, in the Department of Justice, is the responsible authority for the funds.

Ms McGinley acknowledged that applications to get funding are complex, but said more support should have been given to groups seeking monies.

“Given the fact that there appears to be such an underspend, the Government could put in some sort of support system for new groups who were not successful in their initial applications to re-apply, or could have said to groups in receipt of grants, “there is more money available” and put in place a transparent process to access these funds,” she said.

A serious issue for some organisations is the current delay in the next stream of EU funding being allocated. Details of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) 2014 to 2020 still have not been finalised, and organisations have yet to even make applications. The EU has allocated €20m to Ireland under the scheme.

Ms McGinley said: “There has been a delay at Irish and EU level. The department is aware that it has meant lay-offs and the closure of services which has had a knock- on effect for communities and relationships.”

Given that there is a potential €20m on the table under the AMIF, Ms McGinley questioned if groups should be allowed to apply for larger amounts of funding, given the underspend in the previous round.

“In light of increasing numbers applying for asylum, the relocation of asylum applicants and increased immigration as the economy grows, it is anticipated that Ireland’s allocation under the AMIF will be fully drawn down. The operation of the AMIF will be kept under review,” a spokesperson said.

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