Giving child benefit to families in Direct Provision would honour the vision the men and women of 1916 had for Ireland, the Irish Refugee Council has said.
During the 1916 Rising, Patrick Pearse stood outside the GPO in Dublin and read out the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
One-hundred-and-seven years later, the Irish Refugee Council believes granting child benefit to all families would honour the vision he set out.
“In the top of the press release for this, we use the phrase ‘Cherishing all the children equally’ which is from the Proclamation of 1916,” CEO Nick Henderson told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We really do think this an opportunity for this Government to make a difference to children in Direct Provision.”
Ukrainian refugees are entitled to child benefit but international protection applicants fail to qualify because they do not meet the Government’s habitual residence requirement.
Mr Henderson said that, given the small numbers of people in Direct Provision, the policy would cost the Government very little.
“We’re not talking about a large group of people at all,” he said.
“There are approximately 2,500 children in Direct Provision that would benefit from this payment.
“Also, it wouldn’t really cost that much at all in the grand scheme of things; parents in June received an additional child benefit payment across the country and I think that cost around €300 million… and we calculate that the introduction of child benefit or an equivalent for children in Direct Provision would only cost about €5 million.”
The Irish Refugee Council is aware that many people would feel concerned that high levels of social welfare.
However, Mr Henderson said, in his experience, social welfare is “far from [refugee’s] minds” when they flee abroad.
“Their focus is getting out of their country, trying to get to a safe country - wherever that might be - and that may end up being in Europe,” he said.
Figures from the Department of Justice show that Ireland has taken in some 92,500 people from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.
In addition to that, the country has welcomed some 20,900 asylum seekers from other countries.
Main image: Split of a child and the Proclamation.