115. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to continue relocating refugees from Greece in view of the closing of applications for the refugee relocation programme on 26 September 2017. [43177/17]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by Government Decision on 10 September 2015 as a direct response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Under this decision, a programme office was established in my Department to oversee the operational aspects of the programme, which aims to bring in 4,000 vulnerable migrants to Ireland, largely under two different mechanisms, refugee resettlement and asylum seeker relocation.
With regard to the relocation of asylum seekers from Greece, I can inform the Deputy that the Greek component of the programme is unaffected by the expiry of the two Council relocation Decisions as all the actions necessary for Ireland to take its full allocation from Greece have already been implemented by Ireland working in conjunction with colleagues in the Greek Asylum Service and related bodies. Ireland has met its commitment to formally pledge for 1,089 people from Greece by 26 September 2017. 587 of the allocation are already in the State. A further 428 have been assessed and are awaiting transport arrangements, with 34 persons due for arrival later this week. Hundreds more are due to arrive in the coming months. Sufficient missions to fill any quota remaining under this strand of the Programme will be scheduled with the Greek authorities.
By early 2018, Ireland will have admitted its entire cohort from Greece under the relocation programme (1,089) and will have admitted double our original commitment of 520 under the European Commission’s July 2015 Resettlement scheme (1,040). Relocation from Italy has not proven possible within the two-year timeframe of the relocation programme, due to a refusal by the Italian authorities to allow security assessments of candidates on its soil.
Ireland is doing everything it can to give effect to the EU relocation Decisions but as can be seen, these Decisions are unlikely to yield the anticipated numbers for reasons entirely outside of Ireland’s control.
The Irish Refugee Protection Programme is working to ensure that all persons selected for relocation and resettlement are transported to Ireland as soon as possible. Officials are currently undertaking a full review of the IRPP to ensure progress continues, with a view to establishing how best Ireland’s remaining obligations might be met and through what channels. The IRPP is on target to fulfil its commitments to Greece. Ireland expects to be an active participant in current and future pledges in respect of refugees and other vulnerable persons in need of protection. The determination of the Government to deliver on our targets remains absolute.