Ireland to take in 2,900 more refugees under EU quotas
DUBLIN - Agence France-Presse
A Syrian refugee carries his son on his shoulders after arriving at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, onboard the Eleftherios Venizelos passenger ship, September 9, 2015. Reuters PhotoIreland has agreed to take part in a refugee quota system proposed by the European Commission and will take in 2,900 additional refugees, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed on Sept.10.
In a statement following an emergency cabinet meeting meeting, Fitzgerald said Ireland will accept up to 2,900 additional refugees as part of the EU programme in addition to the 600 people Dublin already committed to take earlier this year.
Another 520 people are currently being resettled under a separate programme.
"Ireland has always lived up to its international humanitarian obligation and we are fully committed to playing our part in addressing the migration crisis facing Europe," Fitzgerald said.
"It is expected that these numbers will be augmented by further family reunifications," the statement said.
EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Sept.9 unveiled a major plan for binding quotas that would share out 160,000 refugees across the EU.
Under EU treaties, Britain and Ireland can decide to participate in the plan if they choose, while Denmark has a blanket opt-out clause.
Britain has ruled out accepting EU quotas but has agreed to take in up to 20,000 Syrians from UN refugee camps directly over the next five years.
During his speech, Juncker spoke of the waves of emigration from European countries during times of conflict and persecution.
Ireland has a long history of emigration stemming from the Great Famine in the 19th century.
"There is a reason the number of O'Neills and Murphys in the US exceeds by far those living in Ireland," Juncker said.
Fitzgerald said it would cost an estimated 12 million euros ($13.43 million) per year for every thousand refugees.
A network of "emergency reception and orientation centres" would be set up to process the new arrivals, she said.
She also committed to fast-tracking the decision-making process on refugee status and said that the newcomers would not be housed in the existing system for refugees, which has been heavily criticised.