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Briefing note

Planning and Development Regulations 2016


Department of Justice and Equality
Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Regulation 3 (b) substituting the following for the definition of protected person:
protected person*, for the purposes of Schedule 2, means
(a) a person who has made an application to the Minister for Justice and Equality under the Refugee Act
1996 (No. 17 of 1996) or the Subsidiary Protection Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 426 of 2013), or
(b) a programme refugee within the meaning of section 24 of the Refugee Act 1996;.

This amendment removes from the definition of a protected person a person who falls to be
considered or has been considered under Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1999.

Such a person is already covered by the definition of a person who has made an application to
the Minister for Justice and Equality under the Refugee Act 1996 (No. 17 of 1996) or the Subsidiary
Protection Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 426 of 2013) and the inclusion of a reference to the
Immigration Acts of 1999 could lead to confusion in the reading and interpretation of the Planning
and Development regulations.

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ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND BRIEFING


Asylum seekers accommodated in
centres under contract to the Reception and Integration Agency RIA

The Reception & Integration Agency RIA of the Department of Justice and Equality
is responsible for the provision of full board accommodation and certain ancillary
services to asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy.

There are currently just over 4,700 asylum seekers in 35 centres around the State.

It is a largely cashless system with the State assuming responsibility for providing
suitable accommodation on a full board basis. The cost of all residents' meals, heat,
light, laundry, television, household maintenance etc., is paid directly by the State.
Since its inception in 2000, this approach has been the policy of successive
Governments. It is important to note that during this time no asylum seeker has
ever been left homeless.

Aside from full board accommodation services provided by RIA, services to


residents are mainstreamed i.e. they receive a range of State services - education,
health, community welfare supports and so on - in the same way as the general
population.

Asylum seekers living in centres under contract to RIA qualify for a medical card
and associated services e.g. they are exempt from the fees for State examinations
(Junior and Leaving Certificate). Additionally, the Minister for Health, Leo
Varadkar T.D, recently introduced a waiver exempting such persons from
prescription charges.

Residents receive a weekly allowance for incidental personal expenditure. The


allowance is payable at the weekly rate of 19.10 per adult and 15.60 per child.
This payment is not intended as a living allowance to provide for basic necessities
as these are already provided - this is an additional payment for incidental expenses
and personal requisites. Residents can also qualify for Exceptional Needs Payments
(ENPs). These may be used to assist with a range of needs and are administered by
the Community Welfare Service of the Department of Social Protection DSP. The
rate of allowance for children was increased from 9.60 to 15.60 by the
Government on 14th January 2016.

All children accommodated in premises under contract to RIA live in a family


context with their parents or guardians having primary responsibility for their care
and welfare.

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Asylum seekers, deemed to be unaccompanied minors by the Office of the Refugee


Applications Commissioner ORAC, are, by statute, the responsibility of TUSLA.

RIA has a Child and Family Services Unit whose role is to manage, deliver co ordinate, monitor and plan all matters relating to child and family services and to
act as a conduit between RIA and the Child and Family Agency, Tusla. RIA takes
the issue of child protection and welfare very seriously and has a robust Child
Protection Policy which was update in 2014 to include a Practice Document.

Children residing in centres under contract to RIA may access free pre-school
(ECCE Scheme), Primary and Post-Primary education on the same basis as all other
children in the State. Free English languages classes are provided through different
media, by the ETBs (formerly VECs) and by NGOs, for adults. Children of asylum
seekers can access school transport to and from school under the School Transport
Scheme operated by Bus Eireann on behalf of the Department of Education and
Skills.

Residents in centres under contract to RIA are also entitled to apply for the Back to
School Clothing and Footwear Allowance for their children.

In August 2015, the Minister for Education and Skills announced that students in
the asylum system, who have spent five years in the Irish school system, will have
access to student supports from September 2015. The pilot support scheme opened
on the 1st of September with a closing date of the 5th of November 2015. The
operation of the scheme will be reviewed in 2016. This review will be informed by
the progress made by relevant bodies in implementing the other recommendations
in the Working Group report, particularly the introduction of the International
Protection Bill.

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B rie fin g fro m IR P P O ffice

Government Decision - Numbers


The Government established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme on 10 September
2015 as a direct response to the current EU Migrant Crisis. Under this decision the
Government has agreed to accept approximately 4,000 persons in total under
resettlement and relocation programmes.

This comprises 2,662 to be taken in from

migration hotspots under the new EU programme and a further 1,378 persons to be
accepted into the State on a gradual basis before the end of 2017.
Government Decision - Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres
Under the Government Decision, Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres are to
be established in recognition that we are dealing with a humanitarian crisis and urgent
actions are required. From the humanitarian perspective, best practice is that persons
coming from war torn regions should be accommodated together in the first instance to
provide a level of familiarity through interaction with persons from their own country,
culture, language, etc. It also facilitates a rapid delivery of initial orientation services.
EROCs v Direct Provision
Emereencv Reception and Orientation Centres are intended as designed as an
emergency response to a new large scale humanitarian crisis which has developed in
die wake of recent and ongoing conflict. Under the provisions of the EU relocation
programme persons considered for Relocation, and who will be accommodated in
EROCs upon arrival, must be from countries with a recognition rate for asylum of at
least 75%. Accordingly, the expectation is that many will qualify for refugee status.
Therefore, it is intended that persons entering the EROCs will have their cases for
asylum processed quickly bearing in mind the general profile of the persons involved. It
is also expected that many will be granted status and accordingly, the process of
integration will begin at an early stage
Direct Provision is in place for those who make their own way to the State and then
claim asylum. Each application is assessed in accordance with domestic and
international law.

However, there is no assumption that status will be granted as

almost 90% are not considered refugees at first instance and therefore instigating
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detailed integration measures would not be appropriate and would give rise to
unrealistic expectations.
It should also be noted that the Government has approved a resource package to help
speed up the processing of asylum applications including those in Direct Provision. In
addition, the enactment of the International Protection Bill is a major priority which will
introduce the Single Application Process thus reducing the time taken to process cases.

When will persons start to be received under the EU relocation programme?


Following the establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme a new crossdepartmental and inter-agency Taskforce, chaired by the Department of Justice and
Equality, was immediately established to deal with the operational and logistical
aspects of the programme.

One of the key tasks before the taskforce, assisted by the

Department of Justice and Equality, is the sourcing of suitable accommodation and


orientation services for the proposed network of Emergency Reception and Orientation
Centres. This involves an assessment of state properties by OPW which is ongoing, and
a request for expressions of interest from commercial accommodation providers, which
was advertised in the national media on 9th October (deadline for replies 23rdOct).
While sourcing suitable accommodation for these centres is not without its significant
challenges the first such centre has already been opened in Monasterevin and is already
accommodating resettled refugees. The Hazel Reception Centre in Monasterevin is also
likely to be used to accommodate the first batch of relocated asylum seekers arriving
from either Greece or Italy in the coming weeks. More of these centres (EROCs) are
expected to come on stream in the new year once the process of identifying suitable
properties is complete.
Officials from the Department of Justice and Equality working under the Irish Refugee
and Protection Programme are liaising closely with the European Asylum Support
Office with regard to identifying people for relocation to Ireland from migration
hotspots in Greece and Italy.
In recent days, a family of 10 persons were relocated to Ireland from Greece. The family
have been provided with accommodation and related services in an Emergency
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Reception and Orientation Centre and the full range of state services are being provided
to this family.
IRPP Taskforce
The Cross-Departmental IRPP taskforce has met on three occasions, 15th September, 28th
October and most recently on Thursday 10th December. Among the items discussed
were an update on emergency accommodation for the refugees and relocated persons,
the latest updates with regard to the situation on the ground in Italy and Greece and the
process of identifying those who are to come to Ireland. The taskforce also discussed
ongoing efforts to address the longer term health, educational and housing
requirements that arise when they get refugee status.
Four distinct subgroups have been established under the taskforce as follows:
Operational subgroup - relocation programme and emergency accommodation
and services strategy
Housing subgroup - to look after addressing the long-term housing needs of all
refugees and people with leave to remain in the State within the wider context of
the ongoing housing crisis
Irish Red Cross/ UNHCR subgroup - handling pledges of public support and
liaison with NGOs

Integration subgroup - development of a range of other integration supports (eg.


Welfare Services, Health, Education etc).

Funding
Funding of 25 million has been allocated for the necessary structures and supports for
the new Irish Refugee Protection Programme and the Office of the Refugee Applications
Commissioner. An increase of 89% (total budget 4.445 million) has also been made
available in funding for the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration to allow for
additional staffing and integration measures to support the increased intake of
programme refugees in 2016.

Pledges of aid and support from the public.


The Government is acutely aware that the tragic scenes which emerged during media
coverage of the migration crisis have struck a chord with the Irish public as

demonstrated by the many generous pledges of assistance that have been made. In an
attempt to harness this goodwill the Government has tasked the Irish Red Cross with
accepting and managing these pledges of accommodation and support and where
appropriate these offers will feed into the overall effort of meeting the long term
accommodation needs of relocated persons receiving status.

The Red Cross is also

liaising with church representatives with regard to helping them manage the many
offers of assistance being received from their parishioners.
NGO Community's role
The Government also recognises the very important role the wider NGO community
has to play in terms of offering a variety of supports to persons in need of international
protection beyond the immediate requirements of accommodation, food and health
services. The Government taskforce has already engaged with the NGO community
through the taskforce's Irish Red Cross and UNHCR representatives and in October the
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of the Department hosted a briefing
session on the Irish Refugee protection Programme for a number of NGO's active in the
area of refugee support.
A coalition of 21 NGO's published a paper on the Irish Refugee protection process
which makes a number of recommendations with regard to the international protection
process in Ireland including a recommendation that the Government should dispense
with

using

commercial

accommodation

providers

to

meet

the

emergency

accommodation needs of asylum seekers. The reality is that it has always been open to
the not-for-profit sector to make proposals and offers in relation to the provision of
services and accommodation and this remains the case. There is no question of the
Government discouraging

such

offers

however

the

provision

of full

board

accommodation and ancillary services creates a particular set of demands which the
commercial sector in Ireland has proven most able to meet to date.

This includes

meeting the various building, fire, health & safety, and food safety regulations required
of any provider of accommodation to large groups of people.
Better communication regarding the Government's approach to the GU migration
crisis
The public's willingness to engage with the Government on this humanitarian issue
carries with it a requirement for clear and timely information on the work of the IRPP to
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be made public.

To this end, the Department of Justice and Equality has engaged

external communications experts to devise and implement a comprehensive whole-ofGovernment communications strategy to support the Irish Refugee Protection
Programme. Among the key aims of this strategy, which is expected to be in place
before the first relocated persons arrive, will be to address public concerns regarding
Ireland's response to the migration crisis, ensure the general public is kept apprised of
all that is happening under the IRPP, and provide further feedback on how the many
generous offers of support received to date are being dealt with.

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The resettlement programme is part of the Refugee Protection Programme.


176 refugees arrrived from Jordan and Lebanon under the resetttlement programme in 2015.
13 refugees arrrived from Lebanon yesterday.
A further 95 refugees are expected to arrive from Lebanon before the end of February.
Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration
The Resettlement Programme:
The Irish UNHCR-led resettlement programme began in 2000. Between then and 29th
September 2015,1,285 vulnerable persons from 27 different countries, including Iraq
and Syria, have been resettled in Ireland and 40 additional persons have been relocated
from Malta. Refugees have already been resettled in 26 different communities
throughout Ireland - Killamey, Kilkenny, Carlow, Cavan, Monaghan town and
Carrickmacross, Carrick-on-Shannon, Roscommon, Sligo, Ballina and Castlebar, Ennis,
Limerick, Cork, Tralee, Thurles, Portlaoise, Tullamore, Waterford, Naas, Arklow and
Mullingar - and in the four Dublin Local Authority areas.
2015/2016 quota (520 persons)
A further 176 refugees arrived from Lebanon by the end of 2015 and have participated
in language training and orientation programmes. Some have already moved to
permanent accommodation (in Thurles, Portlaoise, Killamey and Tralee) and others
will follow in the coming weeks to other communities. A grant will be given to the
receiving communities to employ a resettlement worker to support the refugees in the
first year post resettlement.
Approx 100 additional refugees are due to arrive from Lebanon in the coming months.
The balance of approx 200 refugees of the quota of 520 refugees for 2015/2016 will be
admitted in stages throughout 2016.
Housing for programme refugees
Following a period of rest and orientation, refugees are housed in communities across
the country in close cooperation with the local authorities and other local services.

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Planning and Development Regulations


Speaking points

This amendment is a technical amendment to the Principal regulation to remove the possibility
o f confusion in the reading and interpretation o f the Planning and Development regulations.

Under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, Ireland is committed to accepting up to


4,000 persons on resettlement or relocation into the country over the next two years.

The first such persons arrived in Ireland last week and are being provided with the full range
of State services.

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