‘Similarities’ between refugee centres and direct provision

Minister says those staying at new reception and orientation centres to be ‘fast-tracked’

Canadian Tima Kurdi, the aunt of of three-year-old Syrian refugee boy Aylan Kurdi who died trying to reach Greece from Turkey, writes on a giant citizen’s Refugees Welcome Wall during a demonstration in Brussels. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Canadian Tima Kurdi, the aunt of of three-year-old Syrian refugee boy Aylan Kurdi who died trying to reach Greece from Turkey, writes on a giant citizen’s Refugees Welcome Wall during a demonstration in Brussels. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

 

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald had admitted there will be “similarities” between the reception centres for incoming refugees and the current direct provision system.

Ms Fitzgerald argued that although housing options for programme refugees will mirror direct provision centres by providing food and accommodation, people staying at the new “reception and orientation centres” would receive refugee status in a “fast track manner”.

“The whole point of this programme is that... the vast majority of the people who will come, probably between 80 and 90 per cent are refugees,” Ms Fitzgerald told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme. “Once you get that assessment, and we will do it in a fast track manner, once a person is assessed to be a refugee then they can work, be involved in society the same as every other Irish citizen.”

“I wouldn’t call it direct provision... it’s a new reception and orientation centre where the assessment will be done within a number of weeks as to the refugee status. That’s quite different to the situation we have with direct provision.”

The Minister’s comments came after European justice ministers backed a relocation plan for refugees on Tuesday by employing a rarely used majority voting system. EU justice minister agreed to a reworked version of the European Commission’s relocation plan for refugees by passing the package through a majority vote after Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania voted against the scheme.

EU leaders will meet at an emergency summit on Brussels today to agree on a long-term strategy to handle the refugee crisis.

“The members yesterday across all of the member states recognised this is an enormous humanitarian crisis,” said Ms Fitzgerald. “There are differences in approach but the most important thing is that we have a decision now to work together across Europe on relocation.

“We have to bear in mind that the percentage of refugees coming into Europe overall is low compared to what other countries in the region are taking like Lebanon and Jordan,” she said.

“What Ireland is saying is that proportionately we feel we can make a contribution.”

Ms Fitzgerald said expected the EU commitments to the refugee relocation plan to be agreed on by the Dáil and the Seanad next week, adding that the State would still accept “approximately 4,000 people over a two year period”.

After people are assessed at “hot spot assessment centres” in Italy and Greece, refugees will begin to arrive in Ireland with a couple of hundred arriving over the next few months, said the Minister.

“What the commission expects is that we will alert the commission to the numbers that we can take every three months, that’s the agreement with every member state. The expectation would be that there would be over those 24 months a proportionate number arriving every few months.”

Ms Fitzgerald said the task force was in the process of identifying suitable accommodation centres for refugees. The Department of Justice announced last week that more than 20 refugees had already arrived at the Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin where there will stay for three to four months before being resettled elsewhere in the State.