Tuesday, 13 June 2017
Refugee Resettlement Programme
I welcome the Minister. I will get straight to the point. The Government made a commitment in respect of the matter I am raising. Commitments are about honour and delivering something. The commitment to which I refer has been restated by the Minister and her colleagues in government. I attended a conference last week at which I heard the stories of many people who have experienced issues in terms of direct provision. I also heard about families that need to be reconnected and other matters. We need to challenge the myth that Ireland is the country of a thousand welcomes. That notion needs to be re-evaluated.
It is important that we stand in solidarity with people in need and that we honour our commitment to take 4,000 individuals into our country. While we face other issues and challenges, this matter is about our tradition as a country which, historically, has known emigration and our people's need to flee and find refuge in other places. This issue resonates in the hearts and the minds of Irish people generally. There is a good spirit about that and an openness, acceptance and firm belief that diversity, difference, culture and background enliven and enrich our society. There is general acceptance of that and it is a great thing to be able to say that in a true republic and to mean it.
What is the Government's plan to fulfil the commitment made in this regard, which was agreed with our European counterparts? I acknowledge that there are difficulties involved but perhaps the Minister might, with the aid of her script, outline that plan. I appreciate that she has a job to do. I want to keep this matter on the agenda, maintain the focus on it and see how we can get back on track and deliver on our commitment to those 4,000 people.