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Fifty Syrian refugees promised the warmest of Irish welcomes

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Charlie Flanagan welcomed the 50 refugees to their new homes

Charlie Flanagan welcomed the 50 refugees to their new homes

Charlie Flanagan welcomed the 50 refugees to their new homes

Fifty people - including 27 children - from war-torn Syria began a new life in Ireland yesterday after they settled into their new temporary homes at the Mosney Accommodation Centre in Co Meath.

They were greeted at the accommodation centre by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, who assured them that the people of Ireland would welcome them with open arms.

More than half of the 11 families have children under the age of 10 and had been living in makeshift accommodation at a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) refugee camp in Lebanon.

However, after being pre-assessed as refugees in Lebanon under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, (IRPP), they spent their first night in their own family units at the centre, which is home to around 700 asylum seekers from 39 countries.

"I am delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with the families," said Mr Flanagan.

"Their experiences over the last few years as they were forced to flee their homes have been traumatic and their stories are deeply moving."

Support

"Their long journey to find safety and sanctuary is now over, and I know that the people of Ireland will welcome them with open arms and the offer of friendship and support."

The families, including 27 young children, were pre-interviewed by officials from the Justice Department as part of the resettlement programme under the IRPP before they arrived at Dublin Airport.

It means that they are recognised as official refugees on arrival and can be immediately integrated into Irish life, with accommodation, English language instruction and orientation provided by the State.

It did not all happen overnight, the minister stressed.

"This is the culmination of months of hard work, which began with officials from my department visiting Lebanon to meet with the families with the support of UNHCR," he said.

"I also want to acknowledge the contribution made by An Garda Siochana in this process."

It is part of a programme announced by Mr Flanagan earlier this month in which around 3,000 refugees are to be resettled here in the next three years.

Despite some controversial demonstrations around the country earlier this year, Mr Flanagan described the Syrian families as "living proof of the transformative impact of refugee resettlement".


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