Minister Fitzgerald further announced that the Government has agreed to establish a network of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres established for the initial acceptance and processing of those in need of international protection who are accepted into Ireland under the EU Programmes. Assessments and decisions on refugee status will be made in be in the Centres, within weeks.
Minister Fitzgerald welcomed the expressions of support from the public including those who have pledged accommodation and other assistance. The Minister stated: “I have been clear that we must do all we can to harness the potential of these generous offers.”
“It was agreed today the relevant Housing Authorities in association with the Irish Red Cross, Civil Defence and other NGO’s will be asked to pursue all options, including pledges from the public, to find suitable accommodation for those granted refugee status.”
Separately, Minister Fitzgerald has confirmed that an audit will continue of all available accommodation options including an examination of State property.
Minister Fitzgerald announced that the Government has also today agreed to immediately establish a cross-departmental Taskforce, to be chaired by the Department of Justice & Equality, to coordinate and implement the logistical and operational aspects associated with the new Programme. The Taskforce will work with NGO’s, religious bodies, local authorities and the Irish Red Cross. The Minister said she would be asking for cooperation from all relevant stakeholders. The Minister added that in view of the urgency of the crisis, Taskforce will have its inaugural meeting in the coming days. The Government further agreed that the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy will oversee the Programme and the work of the Taskforce.
The Minister announced that the Department of Justice and Equality will work with the Department of Education and Skills, relevant agencies and NGO’s to put in place appropriate integration measures including the provision of English language training and community socialisation programmes.
Minister Fitzgerald added that special priority will be given to the plight of unaccompanied minors. The Minister stated: “Special arrangements involving the relevant state agencies will be put in place to support the needs for unaccompanied, vulnerable children.”
Responding to concerns relating to security, the Minister will be asking An Garda Síochána to liaise with EU & international policing bodies to ensure that appropriate vetting arrangements are put in place for all new arrivals. All persons arriving under the Programme will be subject to biometric checks. Including fingerprinting.
The Government today further agreed that an additional budget allocation will be made to deal with the major recent increase in asylum and other immigration cases, including backlog cases identified in the recent report of the Working Group on the Protection System, the introduction single protection application procedure and increased enforcement, including removals.