Nasc welcomes national launch of Community Sponsorship Ireland
Nasc, Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, welcomes the national launch of the Community Sponsorship Ireland programme today by Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton. This launch follows a very successful 3-day international Global Sponsorship Summit in Cork which brought together community sponsorship organisations from across the world to share their experiences.
Community Sponsorship Ireland was piloted in 2018 and 5 families (17 people) have been welcomed into communities in Cork, Waterford and Meath under the programme. The success of the pilot Community Sponsorship Ireland programme was recognised by the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) who choose Ireland as the first recipient of its International Award in October 2019.
Nasc has been responsible for supporting and training community sponsorship groups prior to the arrival of refugee families. Nasc first called for the introduction of a Community Sponsorship programme through its Safe Passage Campaign in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, Nasc worked with a community group, Wicklow Syria Appeal, to facilitate the resettlement of the Al Sulaiman Syrian refugee family, to Wicklow Town. Nasc also supported the first community group in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath to sponsor a refugee family through the official Community Sponsorship Ireland programme in December 2018.
Nasc CEO Fiona Finn notes, “I am delighted to see the Minister committing to the long-term future of Community Sponsorship Ireland. Community Sponsorship is one of the sustainable ways of providing safe and legal migration pathway to refugees fleeing conflict.
We’ve worked with a number of Community Sponsorship Groups and the overwhelming response from everyone is that community sponsorship has been an enriching and rewarding experience both for the Community Groups and for the refugee families. Community sponsorship has been a really positive story of communities actively coming together to support refugees, and then finding that they’re no longer refugees and sponsors – they’ve become friends and neighbours. This is a really simple but welcome story of integration in these times.”
Spokespersons for the Carrigtohill Community Sponsorship Group who welcomed a refugee family in 2019, Rola (Hamed) Abu Zeid - O'Neill and Teresa Ryan described their sponsorship experience, “There was an openness and acceptance from the local community which allowed this project to be developed and brought to fruition. The support we received from the church and from St Vincent de Paul were both essential in advocating, promoting and financially supporting the initiative. Since their arrival, the family have been completely engaged with our community and have continually shown their appreciation by participating in the parish and all of the local activities.”
Nasc believes that Community Sponsorship has a particular resonance in Ireland. Fiona Finn says, “Migration is part of the Irish story; many of the sponsorship groups we work with say that they have family who had to emigrate but at least as Irish citizens they were able to do so safely. They now want to repay that by extending a welcome to those who’ve had no choice but to flee their homes.”
Further information about Community Sponsorship is available at https://nascireland.org/current-projects/community-sponsorship
Fiona Hurley - Policy and Communications Manager
087 104 3284
Note for editors:
- Nasc is the Irish word for ‘link’
- Community Sponsorship is an alternative private resettlement stream to the traditional state-centred model of resettlement. It allows community sponsorship groups to come together to support arriving refugees. The local group will provide supports around access to housing and to different state services. Refugees will arrive in Ireland following selection by UNHCR and a vetting process overseen by Irish Refugee Protection Programme.
- Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) was established in 2018 as a complementary resettlement stream to the traditional state-centred model for refugees. The unique feature of the programme is to provide private citizens and community-based organisations an opportunity to directly support a refugee family.
- The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by a government decision in September 2015 as Ireland’s response to the migration crisis in Europe. The Programme aimed to take in 4,000 refugees via a number of different mechanisms.