Ireland takes in just 550 migrants despite vow to offer home to 4,000
Ireland has taken in just 550 people caught up in the ongoing migrant crisis despite vowing to offer a home to 4,000 by next year.
Immigration minister David Stanton says those who have arrived so far - including children - have suffered horrific ordeals.
"Many have suffered terribly, have unaddressed or undiagnosed medical needs and many children have never attended school or have missed years of their schooling," he said.
"They have lost everything they have ever owned and are arriving on our shores with just the clothes on their backs.
"This is a terribly vulnerable group that need all our help and assistance."
More than a million migrants fled to Europe last year alone, mostly from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Thousands have died trying to cross the Mediterranean sea.
Last year the Government announced plans to take in, over two years, some 4,000 people fleeing to European borders to escape civil war and deadly violence.
The then Fine Gael/Labour government claimed the actual number could be as high 20,000 once refugees were allowed to bring over their families, under reunification rules.
To date, just 550 have been accepted - less than 14% of the original target number.
And while agreement has been struck on programmes to take in a total of 3,402 by the end of next year, officials have yet to work out how they will bring in 600 migrants to make up the shortfall.
Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald insisted the Government was determined to press ahead with its commitments.
"While the relocation programme from Greece has been slower to progress, significant numbers of asylum seekers are now beginning to arrive in Ireland from Greece," she said.
"I strongly urged departments and agencies to get on with the planning and to make provision for the necessary resources in 2017 to deal with the expected increase in numbers."