That the Minister for Justice & Equality give details of all the applicants, successful and unsuccessful, the assessment criteria used and the amounts of money allocated to them recently by the OPMI under the European Refugee Fund and European Integration Fund.

Go dtabharfaidh an tAire Dli, Cirt & Comhionannas sonraí maidir leis na h-iarrthóirí ar éirigh leo agus iad siúd nár éirigh, na critéir meastóireachta a úsáideadh agus na suimeanna maoinithe a ceadaíodh dóibh ag an Oifig um Tacú le hImiricigh in Éirinn (OPMI) faoin gCiste Eorpach do Theifigh (ERF) agus an Chiste Eorpach Imeascadh (EIF).

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh

The Minister would like to thank Senator O Clochartaigh for raising this issue and for giving us the opportunity to speak about these Funds and the recent decisions on grant applications.

The European Refugee Fund provides assistance for the reception of asylum seekers and the reception and integration of refugees, persons enjoying subsidiary protection and resettled persons.

The European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals supports the integration of third-country nationals other than persons who come within the target groups of the Refugee Fund.

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in the Department of Justice and Equality is the responsible authority for these Funds and Pobal is the delegated authority.  This means that Pobal deal with calls for proposals and the appraisal and selection process, among other things. 

A call for applications in respect of these Funds was advertised by Pobal with a closing date of 20 September last. There were 27 applications under the Refugee Fund and 40 under the Integration Fund.

The appraisal process consisted of an eligibility check followed by a full appraisal of those who came through that check.  The eligibility check was to determine if the application related to the appropriate target group for the Fund and if it had confirmation of the necessary matching funding.  The required matching funding is 30% of the total cost but only 5% for projects addressing certain specific priorities.

The appraisal is carried out by an appraisal officer of Pobal in line with the selection criteria.  The appraisal is then considered by an appraisal sub-committee in Pobal.  Then, recommendations are made to the Board of Pobal for approval following which they are sent to the Department of Justice and Equality for final agreement. 

The selection criteria which were published on the Pobal website when the call was launched and which were used in the appraisal process were:

1. Capacity of the Applicant
2. Need for the Project
3. Outcomes for the target group 
4. Strategic Fit e.g. evidence of collaboration with other organisations at a national, regional and/or local level
5. Value for money

Each of these criteria was given equal weight.  More detailed information is on the Pobal website, www.pobal.ie.

Additional marks were awarded to applicants who could source matching funding greater than the minimum amounts required.

The Minister wishes to stress that the assessment was done by Pobal.  The Department accepted Pobal’s assessment of the merits of the individual applications.  On this basis and having regard to the amount of resources in the Subhead D.9 of the Department’s Vote this year and next year, the Department approved 22 projects of which 16 are under the European Integration Fund and 6 under the Refugee Fund.  These were chosen in strict order of merit based on the marks awarded in the assessment.  The total amounts of the grants payable to these projects are €1,039,445 in the case of the Integration Fund and €442,389 for the Refugee Fund.

The Minister has arranged to put details of the successful projects on www.integration.ie, and to have them made available to the Senator as well.  The Minister would not propose to publicise details of unsuccessful projects.  By definition, these will not be in receipt of grants under these Funds and, in the circumstances, it would be considered more appropriate that unsuccessful applicants disclose the fact of their application themselves if they wish to do so particularly in circumstances where they may be seeking funding from other sources as well.

The level of funding available has meant that choices have had to be made.   Also, the fact that a project was unsuccessful on this occasion does not mean that it cannot succeed in the future.    

The unsuccessful applicants were informed by Pobal of the outcome of their application and also informed that, if they have any queries regarding this, they can contact that body and a member of staff will respond.  If there are any further concerns at that point, it is possible to seek a review of the decision and this review will be carried out by persons who were not involved in the original assessment.    

While geographical location was not a selection criterion, it should be noted that twelve of the projects selected are based in Dublin, two in Galway and one each in Carlow, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Louth, Mayo and Meath.

ENDS