Christmas and New Years Update from Nasc

Thu, December 20, 2018

Dear Nasc friends and supporters,

2018 has been a very busy but also very successful year for Nasc.  Our legal clinics have remained busy, but with additional staff and increased walk in times, we have managed to see more people throughout the year, primarily on issues relating to family reunification, family visas and EU treaty rights; citizenship queries; Zambrano applications; and support for asylum seekers living in direct provision.  For every difficult case our legal team has had to work through, there have also been positive results, like families reunited after years of separation caused by war and persecution, which absolutely make our work worthwhile.

Coming on foot of a strong 2017, where we saw success for our national Safe Passage campaign, 2018 has brought the introduction of the Irish Humanitarian Admission Programme (IHAP) and the introduction of a national Community Sponsorship programme.  We have worked incredibly hard throughout 2018 to make sure that both of these key Safe Passage campaign asks were implemented in ways that make them accessible and effective for refugee families and for Irish communities.  We supported and provided information to over 70 people in relation to applying for family members under IHAP.  The results of these applications are being sent out to families just in time for Christmas, and INIS have announced a new round has just opened.

In 2018, we saw the arrival of the first refugee family under a pilot community sponsorship project we co-coordinated with volunteer group Wicklow Syria Appeal. Nasc has worked closely with government officials, the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, other NGOs and UNHCR Ireland to develop the national programme and 2019 will hopefully see the arrival of many more refugee families into communities throughout Ireland through Community Sponsorship Ireland.

Also in 2018, through coordinated efforts from Senators in the Civil Engagement Group, along with our partner NGOs Irish Refugee Council and Oxfam Ireland, the Family Reunification Amendment Bill 2017 passed through all stages of the Seanad with cross party support and also passed a key vote in the Dáil.  This Private Members Bill, which seeks to broaden the definition of family in the International Protection Act 2015, will now go to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality in the new year.

Nasc continued to work towards the end of direct provision and the introduction of a more humane asylum reception system in Ireland throughout 2018.  With funding from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, we engaged in a year long project ‘Beyond McMahon: the future of asylum reception in Ireland’ with UCC’s Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights to host a conference, which brought together a range of key stakeholders to discuss the current state of direct provision, the Government’s progress on the implementation of the McMahon Report and what alternatives to direct provision could look like.  This project also included a consultation with residents in five direct provision centres and a post conference publication.  Nasc also engaged with the Reception and Integration Agency, other McMahon NGOs and UNHCR Ireland to develop national standards for reception centres.  This document has gone through a public consultation process and will hopefully be put into practice in the new year with the establishment of an independent inspectorate to oversee its implementation.   We have continued to conduct outreach and provide support to residents in direct provision around issues in the centres including transfers, allowances and complaints. We also provided support to residents who are eligible for the new Labour Market Access Permission under Ireland’s transposition of the EU Reception Conditions Directive.

In the spring of 2018, Nasc launched our ground-breaking research report on Immigration Detention and Border Control in Ireland.  This report documented issues with the treatment of immigration detainees in Irish prisons, as well as issues for people detained after being refused entry to the State.  It is clear that much work needs to be done to improve Ireland’s policies towards people detained for immigration related reasons, including ratifying the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) which Ireland signed in 2007.

In 2018, Nasc expanded its work in two key areas – providing support to migrant and asylum seeking children through our Connect Project and providing English language training and employment supports for refugee women through our Pathways to Employment Project.  Both of these projects have been hugely successful and we plan to continue the, in 2019.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients, friends, supporters and funders for helping us make 2018 a very successful year.  To Nasc’s amazing staff and volunteers, this organisation’s success in effecting real change to make Ireland a more inclusive and equal place to live is all down to your tireless work.

From all of us at Nasc, we wish everyone a joyful Christmas season and a Happy New Year.  We look forward to seeing you all in 2019.

Our warmest wishes,

Fiona Finn

CEO, Nasc