Ireland’s intake of refugees remains low, says ESRI report

Concern over forthcoming law that will restrict refugees’ ability to reunite with families

The overall number of refugees being resettled in Ireland remains low despite a doubling of the figure between last year and this year, a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ERSI) has said.

The report, “Resettlement of Refugees and Private Sponsorship in Ireland”, published on Tuesday, found that by November Ireland had settled 98 per cent of the 520 mostly Syrian refugees it had committed to accepting.

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) remit includes the relocation of asylum applicants from within Europe and the integration of new arrivals.

The Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme was also established as a national response to the crisis – a once-off private sponsorship scheme for Syrian family members, available for a period in 2014.


UNHCR and other organisations have expressed concern the International Protection Act 2015 will limit the scope of family reunification for refugees in Ireland.

When the Act is fully commenced, family reunification will be restricted to a refugee’s immediate family members, and a 12-month time limit for applications will be introduced.


The report's author Samantha Arnold said the study showed Ireland had a well-established and respected resettlement programme.

“Ireland is also doing well in meeting European-level resettlement commitments ahead of schedule,” she said.

“However, in the context of the [refugee] crisis, Ireland and the EU continue to be criticised for pledging to resettle such a small proportion of those in need of refuge.

“The forthcoming restriction on family reunification in Ireland will impact negatively on the ability of refugees, including resettled refugees, to reunify with family members left behind.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that globally 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced in 2015.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times