258 refugees complete 'integration courses' as inequality fears are raised
Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30
Efforts to integrate the 273 Syrian refugees who have arrived in Ireland this year need to go further if they "are to become part of our society", say advocacy groups.
So far this year, 258 refugees from conflict zones in the Middle East have completed a ten-week programme aimed at helping them begin new lives in Ireland.
According to the Department of Justice, this will double before the end of 2017, when another 260 refugees from camps in Lebanon are resettled in Kerry, Cork, Clare and Limerick.
"This is in advance of the EU deadline and clearly demonstrates Ireland's continued proactive approach to resolving this unprecedented humanitarian crisis," said a spokesperson for the department.
He added that the Government was satisfied with its vetting practices, despite concerns following attacks in Europe that have been linked to refugees.
Warning against increased restrictions, the Irish Refugee Council said more needed to be done to ensure that those offered a home in Ireland were given "the chance to fully integrate" into their communities.
"When you look at those involved in the majority of the attacks in Europe, they're not refugees or asylum seekers. They're national-born citizens," said Caroline Reid.
"Issues surrounding integration go a lot deeper than who someone's grandparents were.
"It's about inequality as much as it about discrimination.
"There are a lot of people currently in direct-provision centres, waiting to learn their status.
"Most will come out with no references, no home and little work experience that will be recognised here.
"Now these people have a fantastic entrepreneur spirit and they're not afraid to work but they wouldn't have the same opportunities available to them as the rest of us.
"There's a reason why people often link feelings of isolation and alienation with failing to integrate."
She added: "The last week has been quite horrific but when you look at Ireland's history, we're not so long past the days of our home-grown terrorism.
"(And) while the Irish back then experienced discrimination and ethnic profiling because of the actions of a few, the world didn't shut its doors to us.
"The vast majority of us were as far removed from those terror attacks as these people are to what is happening in Europe and elsewhere now."