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Minister Stanton calls on communities to sponsor a refugee family as he launches pilot Community Sponsorship Ireland initiative

  • Groups will assist a family and provide the supports and friendship needed to find a safe and welcoming refuge in community
  • Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, welcomed first family under the initiative from Syria in December
  • All participating families have been declared as refugees by UNHCR prior to their arrival in Ireland


6 March 2019


The Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, has today announced the launch of a new pilot Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) initiative for refugee families. The CSI has been developed under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) in collaboration with key civil society organisations including UNHCR Ireland (the UN refugee agency), Nasc, the Irish Refugee Council, the Irish Red Cross, the Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition and Amnesty International. Minister Stanton is now inviting members of the public to play a key role in this initiative to welcome and integrate a refugee family into their community.


Under the programme, private citizens and community-based organisations will provide direct support and assistance to a refugee family invited to settle in their locality. The participating family will be registered with UNHCR and will have been declared as refugees by UNHCR prior to their arrival in Ireland. Involved community groups will assist the family in accessing services and provide the supports and friendship necessary to enable them to find a safe and welcoming refuge in their community. A community group in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, welcomed the first family under the initiative from Syria in December.


Speaking in Dunshaughlin today after meeting with the family and members of the community sponsorship group, Minister Stanton said: “The community in Dunshaughlin, supported by Nasc, has been the first to welcome a refugee family under this new initiative. They have shown great commitment to the family and I have been very impressed with the supports they have provided. Meeting the family today and hearing of their experiences in Syria is a timely reminder of the need to find alternative pathways for admission, like community sponsorship, for those who have lost everything and need our help to start again in a safe and supportive community environment.  


My goal under this pilot phase of the initiative is to have 10 communities participating in CSI, each helping a refugee family to start a new life here in Ireland. I am calling on communities across the country to extend the hand of friendship to a refugee family and work alongside Government to make this a reality. Community engagement and leadership will drive the success of the initiative. Dunshaughlin can provide a model for others to follow and I look forward to further announcements of community involvement in the near future.


Training and support will be provided for participating communities.  A Regional Support Organisation will also assist them. Full details of the Community Sponsorship Ireland initiative and the application form for communities wishing to apply can be found at

Note for Editors


  • The development of a new Community Sponsorship Programme represents the fulfilment by Ireland of an important commitment expressed in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Declaration, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 September 2016, expanded and developed resettlement, humanitarian admission programmes and other legal pathways including private/community sponsorship.


  • This commitment was further strengthened in the most recent Joint Statement of Ministers from Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Argentina, Spain and New Zealand which underlines support for community based refugee sponsorship signed in advance of the 2018 United Nations General Assembly and agreed in the Global Compact on Refugees.


  • A pilot Community Sponsorship (CS) project commenced in December 2018 with the arrival of a Syrian family to Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, and is envisaged to run for 18 months. It is expected that up to 10 refugee families will arrive in Ireland under the pilot phase of this support mechanism (resettling 50 refugees).


  • Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) is an alternative resettlement stream to the traditional state-centred model. The initial pilot model seeks to enable groups within a community to come together to support arriving refugees under a Community Sponsorship Group (CSG). 


  • Once the CSG has come together, they submit a detailed plan of proposed supports outlining how the group will provide the necessary supports for the refugee family following their arrival and for a period of up to two years.  The group undergoes a matching and vetting process to link them with a support organisation and a refugee family. The group undertakes to source accommodation, introduce the family to services locally and give a broad based system of support.


  • Community Sponsorship has been operating in Canada for over 40 years and research from that country shows better outcomes for the refugees.


  • The Irish model has been developed in cooperation with Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GSRI),  the Irish Red Cross, Nasc, the Irish Refugee Council, the Irish Refugee and Migrant Coalition, Amnesty International and the UNHCR.  The refugee applications will be vetted by the Department of Justice and Equality.  Learning from the pilot will inform the future development of Community Sponsorship Ireland.


  • Should the sponsorship relationship breakdown, for whatever reason, the refugees will be supported by the Government’s resettlement and integration programme implemented by the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).