Final asylum seekers arrive in Ireland under EU relocation programme

Over 1,000 asylum seekers and nearly 800 refugees have been relocated here

Final asylum seekers arrive in Ireland under EU relocation programme

This 2013 file photo shows a charter flight departing Casement Aerodrome | Image: of Defence

The final 129 asylum seekers to be relocated from Greece have arrived in Ireland.

The Government says this signals "the successful conclusion" of Irish participation in the EU relocation programme in Greece.

Some 1,022 asylum seekers have now been relocated to Ireland, in addition to 792 refugees.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and the Minister of State with Responsibility for Immigration, David Stanton, welcomed the arrival of 129 people under the EU's relocation programme.

Ireland has now received all the asylum seekers for relocation to Ireland from Greece, following the arrival of a special charter flight in Baldonnel on Friday.

Minister Flanagan said: "I am delighted that Ireland has concluded this strand of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).

"We voluntarily opted-in to the relocation mechanism as an act of solidarity with EU member states responding to the plight of an unprecedented number of asylum seekers fleeing conflict in the Middle East, and also because it was quite simply the right thing to do.

"Ireland committed to offer protection to 4,000 people and work is continuing under the IRPP to deliver on that commitment."

Irish forces have been heavily involved in rescue operations in the Mediterranean | File photo

The final flight - organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) - contained 73 adults and 56 children, 36 of whom are under the age of 12.

Minister Flanagan added: "Given the key humanitarian role that the Defence Forces continue to play in the Mediterranean and peacekeeping in Lebanon, the arrival of this final flight into Baldonnel is a fitting conclusion to this strand of the IRPP."

The EU relocation programme in Greece officially closes on March 31st.

The Department of Justice says efforts will now be focused on delivering on commitments under the resettlement strand of the IRPP, working closely with the UNHCR, and on the new humanitarian family reunification scheme.

Between these two strands, Ireland has committed to bringing in a further 1,723 people.

Minister of State Stanton added: "We are continuing work to complete our ambitious targets and have committed to further increase numbers by 2019.

"I am determined that the IRPP, working with its partners both at home and abroad, will actively respond to assist those in need of protection."

The IRPP, the International Protection Office (IPO) and An Garda Síochána have met and interviewed the relocation applicants in Athens.

IPO staff have liaised with the Greek authorities and international bodies in relation to their travel to Ireland.

The IPO will also be processing their applications for international protection.