The Community Sponsorship Scheme should be ramped up and given more resources due to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, according to Fine Gael TD David Stanton.
Deputy Stanton said Ireland must do all it can to assist individuals and families fleeing the brutal military assault of Ukraine by the Russian Government.
As the then Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton launched the Community Sponsorship Ireland Scheme in 2019 following a successful pilot programme which took place in Cork, Waterford and Meath the previous year.
Deputy Stanton said, “There has been an outpouring of support by the people of Ireland towards those pouring across the borders of Ukraine into neighbouring countries and many who have arrived into Ireland.
“There is general consensus among EU leaders that all countries must play their part in assisting the people of Ukraine given the unfolding crisis.
“Minister Coveney has already indicated that up to 20,000 refugees escaping Ukraine could be accommodated in Ireland and families may be asked to open up their homes.
“Ireland has already waived any requirement for visas for Ukrainians to come here, and for three years they will be able to work and live here effectively as EU citizens under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive, which is likely to be activated this week.
“Schemes such as Community Partnership will also play a part in this war effort, and I believe they should be ramped up and given resources to include more people.
“The programme gives private citizens and community-based organisations an opportunity to directly support a refugee family who are newly arrived to Ireland. It sponsors communities to support the integration of refugee families into Irish society by providing a home and offering opportunities to connect with the local services they need, such as English language tuition, employment, and education pathways.
“Since its launch, 20 families have settled across 20 different rural and urban communities throughout Ireland. A further 36 Community Sponsorship groups are at various stages of development across 14 counties.
“This could prove to be a successful integration model for those coming from Ukraine, including many who have been reunited with friends and family since Russia began its deplorable invasion of the country last week.
“Irish people have never been found wanting when it comes to generosity of spirit and acceptance. Indeed, we have already heard many people on the airwaves saying they would be willing to open up their homes to provide those fleeing this horrific war with temporary accommodation.
“I believe Community Sponsorship which has adequate resources would be a key aspect of this effort, in addition to the humanitarian assistance and lifting of visa requirements that have already been announced,” Deputy Stanton concluded.