Caring for thousands will be a huge logistics challenge
Published 11/09/2015 | 02:30
A former dance venue in Co Kildare will become the first port of call for many of the 4,000 refugees to be taken by Ireland.
The Hazel Hotel, in Monasterevin, already houses a small number of refugees who arrived there last month and has the potential to accommodate several hundred people. Officials signalled last night that it is likely to be the first of a number of reception and orientation centres to be opened up in the coming weeks.
The Government task force of departments and agencies, backed up by other groups such as the Irish Red Cross, began work yesterday ahead of a first meeting next Tuesday. The task force will work through the huge logistical task of accommodating the refugees, most of whom are expected to be here by the end of the year.
A number of similar assessment centres will be opened up soon. Officials said prompt assessments and decisions on refugee status will be made in be in these centres.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who is the main coordinator, yesterday said a major challenge will be to maximise the offers of accommodation and other support from private citizens. She also hoped that offers of accommodation from religious orders can be taken up.
The minister said priority would be given to provide English language lessons to ensure the refugees could optimise opportunities and become self-sufficient.
"We will put in place all the necessary supports to ensure that those coming to Ireland can integrate as well as helping them to overcome any trauma they endured on having to flee their home countries," Ms Fitzgerald said.
Irish Red Cross chairman, Pat Carey, said his organisation will be coordinating the response to offers of accommodation from community organisations across the country. He said a dedicated phone line and email address will be set up for to help liaise with the public.