Belfast Telegraph

Expert group on support for asylum seekers reviews community engagement

It will be chaired by former secretary general of the European Commission Catherine Day and is expected to report back by the end of next year.

A new expert group established by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on support for asylum seekers is to review how to improve community engagement in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)
A new expert group established by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on support for asylum seekers is to review how to improve community engagement in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

A new expert group on support for asylum seekers is to review how to improve community engagement in Ireland.

It will be chaired by former secretary general of the European Commission Catherine Day and is expected to report back by the end of next year.

A plan to house asylum seekers at a hotel on Achill Island earlier this year prompted local protests against alleged lack of consultation from the Department of Justice.

Immigration and Integration Minister David Stanton said: “We have seen at first-hand the concerns of communities when new accommodation centres are first mooted in their areas.

I am especially pleased to have someone of the calibre of Dr Catherine Day to lead the group and I look forward to the outcomes of their work, which has already begun. Charlie Flanagan

“While we have recently had successful outcomes in opening new centres in Borrisokane, in Ballinamore and in Ennis, the Expert Group will look at how we can engage more effectively with communities so that we can work together to respond to the needs of asylum seekers and of local residents.

“This is essential for successful integration opportunities.”

Dr Day will be joined on the group by Dr Frances Ruane, Frank Daly, Conn Murray, Niamh O’Donoghue and representatives from NGOs working in this area – Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI).

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “The Expert Group brings together a small number of highly experienced individuals to devise long-term approaches to supporting asylum seekers.

“I am pleased that we can draw on their expertise to see if there are new ways in which we can better meet the needs of asylum seekers and ensure we can adapt quickly to any variations in demand.

“I am especially pleased to have someone of the calibre of Dr Catherine Day to lead the group and I look forward to the outcomes of their work, which has already begun.”

PA

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