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Irish President welcomes refugees and asylum-seekers to his home in Phoenix Park

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Irish President welcomes refugees and asylum-seekers to his home in Phoenix Park

26 June 2015
President Higgins greeting refugees in the grounds of Aras An Uachtarain



The obligation to provide protection and shelter to refugees “carries a special poignancy for Ireland as a country of migration and as a republic based on the principles of universal rights” Irish President Michael D. Higgins told a gathering of refugees and asylum-seekers at Áras an Uachtaráin on Wednesday.

Praising the work of the Irish Naval Vessel L.E. Eithne, which has saved over 2,000 people in the Mediterranean, President Higgins said that countries reveal their strengths and weaknesses based on how they respond to their international obligations to give protection to refugees. 

“In recent weeks, Ireland has become directly involved in the humanitarian response to the migration and refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and we are rightly proud of the role that the L.E. Eithne and our naval service has played in saving the lives of many thousands of those fleeing North Africa at this time.

This humanitarian and logistical response is an example of the very best of our values as a society.”

While noting that Ireland has not always succeeded in meeting the highest standards of reception and support for those who reached the country’s own shores, he welcomed the progress that was being made in responding to the demands of the Irish public for a more efficient and sympathetic process.

“I believe that it is not unrealistic to conceive of a system of protection based on a regime of support rather than one of deterrence, so that newcomers can achieve their potential and make a valuable contribution to their new home society, as all of you who are here today have proven.  It is also not unrealistic to conceive of an Ireland where our welcome for those who seek and require our help should be an unqualified source of pride and joy for all our people.”

The government is expected to publish the Working Group report on the Protection process, including direct provision next week. It will make recommendations on improving the current system for processing asylum applications and accommodating asylum-seekers.

Over 400 people attended the Garden Party on June 24th, including refugees resettled from Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Convention refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless people also attended the event, as did many of the key officials responsible for assisting refugees integrate into their new communities.