Ireland has increased pathways to protection for vulnerable migrants in recent years, but disparities in supports remain

09 Jan 2020

In recent years increased numbers of migrants in need of protection have been offered residence in Ireland under national law and new resettlement schemes. These measures supplement refugee and subsidiary protection status provided for under EU and international law. New EMN Ireland/ESRI research shows that, while such approaches give the State flexibility to respond to growing protection needs worldwide, there are a number of disparities in supports and entitlements among different groups of status-holders. The research is part of an EU-wide mapping study conducted by the European Migration Network, which is funded by the European Commission and the Department of Justice and Equality.

Programme refugee status

The number of people resettled to Ireland, including under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, grew from 20 in 2010 to 349 in 2018. The largest number resettled to Ireland in this period were nationals of Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Granted programme refugee status under Irish law, such people have rights similar to those enjoyed by Irish citizens and people granted international protection.

Families resettled to Ireland under Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI)are among those granted programme refugee status. Launched as a national programme in 2019, it involves community organisations providing a range of integration supports to a refugee family. Eight Syrian families have been resettled under community sponsorship to date.

Persons admitted under theIRPP Humanitarian Admissions Programme (IHAP)are also granted programme refugee status. IHAP was introduced in 2017 to allow Irish citizens or international protection holders apply for family members to be admitted to Ireland. 171 people were accepted under the programme. Available data show the majority were nationals of Syria, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia. A further 278 persons have been granted permission to date under the second call.

Permission to remain under the International Protection Act

The International Protection Act 2015 introduced for the first time permission to remain status for people who receive a negative decision on an application for international protection, but who have other grounds, including humanitarian considerations, on which to remain in Ireland. 72 people were granted permission to remain under this Act in 2017, with a further 238 granted this status in 2018. The top countries of origin were Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Albania, Malawi and Pakistan.

Leave to remain

Between 2010 and 2018, 4,676 people who had submitted an application for international protection were granted leave to remain following a decision not to make a deportation order. It is not known how many were granted for protection reasons or on other grounds. The top countries of origin were Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Ghana.

Disparities between protected groups

Unlike people who come through the international protection system and the other groups, only programme refugees resettled to Ireland receive targeted orientation and integration supports. The rights of persons granted permission to remain under the International Protection Act 2015 are not set out in legislation and there is less clarity regarding their entitlements, such as access to employment and education. Unlike programme refugees and people granted international protection, permission to remain holders are not eligible for State funding for third-level education, which is highlighted by NGOs as a barrier to accessing third-level education not faced by other protection status holders.

Rights for people granted leave to remain are also not provided for in legislation and are less clear than for other status-holders. Some applicants may get a Stamp 4 permission, which entitles them to seek employment without an employment permit and to apply for social welfare, provided that all qualifying conditions are satisfied. Other applicants may get a Stamp 3 permission, which precludes holders from accessing employment or receiving social welfare supports.

Sarah Groarke, co-author of the report, stated,

“The recent introduction of additional admission programmes demonstrates how national legal statuses and ad hoc schemes can be used flexibly, in a way that complements Ireland’s international protection obligations and traditional resettlement pathways. However, the report highlights that certain disparities have arisen in integration supports and in particular access to education among different groups.”

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Groarke, Policy Officer, ESRI, [email protected], +353 1 863 2134 

Notes for editors:

  • National statuses granted for protection reasons in Ireland by Sarah Groarke and Patricia Brazil will be published on the ESRI website at 00.01am on Thursday 9 January. The embargo is 00:01AM, Thursday 9 January. 
  • The ESRI acts as the Irish National Contact Point of the European Migration Network (EMN) (see here). The aim of EMN is to provide up-to-date, objective, reliable and comparable information on migration and asylum at member state and EU-level (see here).

The EMN is co-funded by the European Commission DG Migration and Home Affairs and the Irish Department of Justice and Equality.

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