Human rights groups welcome Irish community sponsorship programme

Colm O'Gorman
Colm O’Gorman

Human rights groups have welcomed Ireland’s announcement of a community sponsorship programme for refugees.

Community sponsorship is a model for refugee resettlement which was developed in Canada in the late 1970s, which invites local communities to come together to support the effective resettlement of refugees.

The UK and Argentina recently launched community sponsorship programmes and Ireland and New Zealand are developing their own.

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “I visited Canada earlier this year and saw their Community Sponsorship Programme in action. It was a hugely inspiring experience. I saw communities coming together with a fantastic sense of purpose to support refugees as they settled into their new lives. It is a programme which delivers really positive outcomes for refugees, but which also strengthens, deepens and enriches host communities.”

Mr O’Gorman added: “Given the outpouring of support for refugees in Ireland, with people from all around the country pledging solidarity with those fleeing persecution and conflict, I am confident that this programme will be hugely successful.

“We look forward to working with everyone involved to help support its development. Ireland is a welcoming country; a programme like this will help to ensure that people across the country are able to extend a welcome to those who desperately need our support.”

Caoimhe Sheridan, co-ordinator of the Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition, said the announcement represented “a momentous commitment from the Irish government”.

Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc, the immigrant support centre, said she was “delighted to see this initiative” from Department of Justice ministers David Stanton and Charlie Flanagan.

She added: “We look forward to working together to roll out this programme, as it will give Irish communities the opportunity to support and provide a safe haven to people fleeing unimaginable situations of conflict and persecution.”