116. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the details of the community sponsorship programme for refugees committed to by the Government in September 2017; the progress towards establishing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43178/17]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): I presume that the Deputy is referring to PQ 254 of 3 October 2017 wherein I stated that both I and officials in the Irish Refugee Protection Programme were well disposed to working with colleagues in the NGO sector to develop a viable community sponsorship model as a prospective way of furthering Ireland's resettlement programme and fostering links between host communities and new arrivals.
It would be premature to set out details of what a community sponsorship model might look like as there are many potential forms that it could take and no formal model that Ireland might adopt has yet been put to me, never mind finalised. However, I have repeatedly stressed in various fora that I am open to such a model being introduced and excited by the potential of such a model to unleash energy at the level of the community which is where integration really occurs. Both I and officials in the IRPP have met with colleagues in the NGO sector who are working towards developing such a model and officials in the IRPP also have had contacts with officials in other States where such models are in operation.
In terms of progress towards devising such a programme I would say that it is still early days and that any model would need to be carefully examined before implementation. I am open to trialing any model to assess its viability prior to a larger roll-out. The Canadian model is often cited as an example of good practice and it appears to have been highly successful However, that model makes demands of private sponsors which need to be teased out with reference to an Irish context. In my view every such programme has to be adapted to the country in which it is situated and should only require sponsors to take on appropriate responsibilities and not responsibilities which should remain within the purview of the State.
It is too early to say when such a model might be run on a trial basis until a model is advanced that can be considered but I can inform that Deputy that I am hopeful that we can make progress towards this goal in 2018 with a view to developing and rolling out a full community sponsorship programme in the medium term.