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Seanad Commencement Matter
26 January 2017
The need for the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, to ensure that the necessary additional resources and services will be put in place to support the refugees who will be staying in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre in Ballaghaderreen and the local community.
Senator Maura Hopkins
Opening statement by Minister of State at the Department of Justice & Equality, David Stanton TD
On behalf of the Tánaiste who cannot be here today as she is attending the Justice and Home Affairs meeting in Malta discussing the current migrant crisis, I want to thank the Senator for raising this important matter.
The Senator will be aware that the Government took the decision in September 2015 to establish the Irish Refugee Protection Programme through which 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and conflict would be offered sanctuary in Ireland. Many of those coming to Ireland have lost families and homes.
761 persons have come to Ireland so far. 2,000 persons are due to arrive in Ireland this year. The intention is that they will be housed temporarily in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROCs) and will then move to permanent homes across the country. The EROC recently announced for Ballaghaderreen, is the third such centre in the country. The others are the Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin and Clonea Strand in Dungarvan.
The principal aim of the Government in establishing such centres is to provide a safe and calm environment where these migrants, mostly young families who have endured unimaginable loss and suffering, can take time to recover physically and mentally, acclimatise themselves to Irish society, learn English, and start planning for their future.
These centres act as hubs for the important range of services that need to be delivered to these particularly vulnerable people. This includes medical services, language training, education, cultural orientation and social protection services.
Key services such as health and education are provided through mainstream services. The relevant mainstream service providers are currently engaged in the task of ensuring that local services can meet increased demand. An IRPP Taskforce chaired by the Tánaiste offers the framework for planning for future demands on local services.
Moreover, as has become standard practice when opening a centre, a local EROC management group, comprising Department officials and local service providers, is being established to oversee the delivery of required services to residents of the EROC and help to pursue solutions to any resource issues that may arise for mainstream service delivery in the area. This EROC management group will include representatives from the HSE, Tusla, the local Educational Training Board, local community Gardaí, IRPP officials and the Department of Social Protection.
I see community involvement as crucial to the process of enabling refugees to build new lives here in Ireland. As a consequence, I will shortly announce the launch of a funding programme to stimulate communities across the country to take action in support of integration. I have been very heartened by the welcome shown by the people of Ballaghaderreen towards the refugees and asylum seekers. I believe that this goodwill should be harnessed into community action. I am currently working to see what support is possible to encourage initiatives that will benefit the local community and the refugees and asylum seekers.
I met the Senator and other local politicians on 11 January to brief them on the opening of the centre. Their support and that of the people of Ballaghaderreen will ensure that the refugees receive a true Irish welcome.