State to accept 3,000 refugees as part of EU plan

Government will agree to accommodate group from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Photograph: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Photograph: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images


The Government is set to agree to accept almost 3,000 refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq, with the first group arriving into the State “within a matter of weeks”.

With Ministers due to convene for a special early-morning Cabinet meeting on the issue, senior Government sources confirmed last night the State would accommodate 2,400 people out of the 160,000 refugees who will be relocated within the EU under a plan announced by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

That is in addition to the more than 500 refugees the State agreed to accept earlier this year under a separate resettlement programme.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is bringing a memorandum to the meeting, which will outline details of how the intake will be managed.

More than 90 per cent will be granted refugee status, under a fast-tracked process.

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While publicly denying any tensions over the issue, sources said Fine Gael Ministers expressed concern at a private party meeting yesterday about how Labour had earlier this week raised expectations about the number of refugees the State could take.

The first group of these refugees will arrive within weeks, a senior Government source said, with many others arriving by the end of the year.

Reception centres

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said specific reception centres would be required to provide accommodation, orientation and assessment of medical needs.

Family members of each person with refugee status are entitled to arrive in Ireland under family reunification rules.

The average number of family members per refugee has been in excess of four in past programmes.

As a result, the number of refugees could rise to 13,000 over a number of years, Government sources said.

However, doubts remained over whether EU justice ministers would back the Juncker plans when they meet in Brussels on Monday.