Hazel Hotel in Kildare to be first refuge for 500 Syrians

Refugees to get orientation programme before transfer to other parts of country

   Frances Fitzgerald: made commitment to take ‘programme refugees’ in May. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Frances Fitzgerald: made commitment to take ‘programme refugees’ in May. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

A hotel in Co Kildare will be the first Irish home for more than 500 Syrian refugees as they begin arriving in Ireland, the Department of Justice has confirmed.

The Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin had been commissioned to be the “orientation” centre at which 520 programme refugees would first be accommodated between now and the end of next year, said a spokesman.

From there, after about three to four months, they will move to other parts of the State.

They have already begun arriving, he said.

“The Hazel Hotel is being used for the temporary accommodation of refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict. The first four such refugees arrived from Lebanon [where they had been in refugee camps] on Monday, August 24th, 2015.”

Orientation programme

He added: “A further 72 refugees, in 15 families, displaced by the Syrian conflict will arrive from Lebanon this month. The refugees will be accommodated in the centre while they undergo a language training and orientation programme before being transferred to other parts of the country to their permanent accommodation in about three to four months’ time.”

He said that as one group left the centre, another group of refugees is expected to arrive.

“In total, by the end of 2016, 520 refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict will have been accommodated temporarily in the centre before moving on to permanent accommodation elsewhere.”

These 520 “programme refugees” were committed to by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald in May and are separate from the 600 displaced people she committed to accepting in July. The latter figure is likely to rise significantly following a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday week.

As programme refugees, the refugee status of this first 520 people will have been established before they arrive here. They will not have to go through the asylum process or spend time in direct-provision centres.

Medical treatment

They will receive any medical treatment they need, while children will be prepared to enter the education system. Ireland would “not be found wanting” in its response to the unfolding migrant and refugee crisis, the spokesman continued. He would not speculate on whether any other migrants or refugees coming here would have to enter the asylum process.

“It would be premature to get into the details of how additional migrants might be dealt with when they arrive here in circumstances where we are still awaiting the [European] Commission’s proposals next week, and discussions on those proposals between ministers at a justice and home affairs council on September 14th,” he said.