Differences between Irish and Italian authorities over the handling of asylum seekers’ applications for relocation have resulted in no migrants moving from Italy to Ireland under an EU scheme agreed last year.
The Department of Justice said “technical issues” meant no asylum seekers had been relocated from Italy since the scheme was agreed in September 2015. It is understood Irish authorities want a greater role in the assessment of asylum seekers on the ground in Italy before they are cleared for travel to Ireland.
The Government agreed to accept 2,600 asylum seekers under the initiative, which was designed to ease pressure on Greece and Italy by dispersing new arrivals across European states.
To date, a total of 69 people, all of them Syrian, have come to Ireland from Greece, but figures from the European Commission show no migrants have come to Ireland from Italy.
A further 15 out of 32 participating states have also received no migrants from Italy under the programme.
The scheme, which was to provide for the relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy, has been beset by delays and low take-up rates. As of last week, just 4,947 people had been transferred to other European states, with France having accommodated the largest number (1,656) and a number of states, including Austria, Hungary and Poland, having received none.
The Department of Justice said yesterday that following discussions with Greek authorities, it hoped to begin taking in 60-80 people a month “very shortly”. Officials would “continue to engage” with Italian authorities, the spokesman added.
In addition to the relocation scheme, Ireland has admitted 377 out of a total of 520 people it pledged to take in 2016 under a separate resettlement scheme run by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. This long-standing programme, which involves people who are certified as refugees while in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere, has been the route to Ireland for most of the 1,000 Syrian refugees who have come here since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.