Irish government agrees to take in 4,000 refugees

A Syrian father and his daughter play at a refugee camp in Germany
A Syrian father and his daughter play at a refugee camp in Germany

The Government has agreed to take in 4,000 refugees following a special cabinet meeting this morning.

It is expected a fast-track system to streamline the application process for the hundreds of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria who will be relocated in Ireland will be rolled out by the government in the coming weeks. 

The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald this morning confirmed a budget has been allocated and refugee welcome centres will be set up around the country.

"The initial budget agreement this morning is that for every  1,000 refugees that we welcome, the cost is approximately €12m per 1,000.”

She said the Government is now asking the European Commission to exclude this sum from national finances.

“The main point is the that Cabinet recognises and wants to respond to this Humanitarian crisis.”

“4,000 is the figure that will take account of what the Commission is asking us to do but it is somewhat more generous than that figure.”

She said a network of emergency reception and orientation centres will be set up around the country.

Refugees will start arriving primarily from Greece and Hungary by the end of the year, the Minister said.

She said any security and public order issues will be dealt with, and Ireland would have the right to refuse any refugee on those bases.

Accomdation centres will be set up within buildings under the Department of Defence, the Office of Public Works, and voluntary offers. Audits will be carried on these accommodation centres in the coming weeks, she said.

Among the State sites being considered for the incoming refugees are Clancy Barracks, army facilities in the Curragh and Kildare as well as Gormanston Camp in Meath. 

The latter, reports suggest, is being considered by the government for hundreds of refugee families fleeing the Middle East and Africa. 

Gormanston is still used by the Defence Forces as a training camp for recruits. However, there a number of reasons the government could utilise the camp. 

It is relatively close to Dublin Airport and is linked to the country's main airport directly by motorway. Gormonston also has over 200 acres of land on which housing for refugees could be built.