Between 1945 and 1946, the Irish Red Cross resettled over 1000 child refugees from war-torn countries. This was called Operation Shamrock. Building on its post-war experience, the Irish Red Cross provided refuge for 384 people from the Baltic countries at Rockgrove Army Barracks, Little Island, Cork from 1949 – 1951. Five years later, the Irish Red Cross was again called upon to look after 528 Hungarian refugees in Knockalisheen, Co Clare from 1956 onwards. White Russia refugees fleeing their recently acquired homes in China had earlier been housed in Dublin by agreement with the UNHCR. When people were displaced by strife within Ireland at the outbreak of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland, it was the Irish Red Cross who dealt with the thousands who sought refuge in army camps south of the border from 1969 – 1971. Later, at the end of that decade, the Irish Red Cross took action to care for over 500 Vietnamese "boat people" who made their homes in Dublin in 1979. Since then the Irish Red Cross has been to the forefront in caring for Bahi refugees in 1985, and again in 1993 for Bosnian refugees who stayed in Cherry Orchard Hospital, Dublin.
Irish Red Cross Register of Pledges
Since 2016 we have been working alongside the Department of Justice & Equality to support its EU Commitment under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. In the midst of a housing crisis, the IRC sourced housing through the establishment and management of the Register of Pledges which fronts, promotes and manages public goodwill in the form of offers of accommodation goods and services. We deliver direct assistance to families and single people through the provision of professional casework services offering wraparound supports to refugees promoting engagement with education, employment, social protection and health services.
The goal of the programme is to enable refugees in Ireland to integrate into Irish society and achieve their potential. The Irish Red Cross has been providing support in this regard to the Irish Government since 2015 to assist the fulfilment of its EU commitment to promoting the resettlement and integration of Refugees under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.
The Irish Red Cross delivers direct assistance to both families and single people through the provision of pledged and private rented accommodation in addition to providing professional casework services offering wraparound supports to refugees promoting engagement with education, employment, social protection and health services, and liaising with the wider Government-led Resettlement Programme across Ireland.
As a result, the Irish Red Cross established, managed and utilised public support through the IRC Register of Pledges platform www.registerofpledges.redcross.ie.
FEAD Project (Fund of European Aid to the Most Deprived)
The Irish Red Cross, in association with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, utilise agreed funding to source, procure, coordinate and distribute Basic Material Assistance including Dignity Kits and Household Starter Kits. This programme is designed to support European Member States in addressing the basic needs of the most deprived people in our communities, those without access to income or living in very poor circumstances. In Ireland it works through not for profit bodies to fund the purchase of food and basic material assistance such as the kits we have designed to assist the basic needs of refugees arriving here and moving into a home in Irish Communities for the first time.
Promoting Reconciliation and Integration through Safe Mediation - (PRISM) works with communities across Northern Ireland. This project helps people explore and share the issues that drive them apart and bring them together. Through the PRISM project, people from different cultural backgrounds come together to make connections with people from their own and other communities. The project is funded by the EU Peace IV Programme and has pan Ireland aspirations to understand the factors which aid and sustain attitudinal change in a divided society and to test approaches to community integration.
Amplifying the Voices of Asylum Seekers and Refugees for Integration and Life Skills. The IRC, in association with the IFRC national societies from the UK, Italy and Latvia, works to ensure the contribution of and participation of refugees and asylum seekers voices in the conversation to improve integration with their host society. This project has explored new ways to support integration through the participation of refugees, asylum seekers and host communities, working together to create, design and implement activities and services. This helps people feel more engaged while making the services more relevant for others who use them. As part of this project in Ireland, we worked to match up arrivals with local buddies. These buddies are volunteers from the local community who provide practical and emotional support, as well as opening doors to local networks, to help people ease their way into the new culture, society and community life.
The IRC launched a co-produced a video documenting 3 single Syrian Refugees life in their home country, their experience of war and their journey and eventual integration into Ireland. These voices highlight challenges experienced and the necessity for reunification with their families.
Community Sponsorship Ireland
CSI is an alternative resettlement stream to the traditional state-centred model of resettlement. The IRC, in cooperation with the Department of Justice, IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), UNHCR, NASC, the Irish Refugee Council and Amnesty International Ireland have worked together since 2017 to develop the Irish model of Community Sponsorship. In addition to playing a role to support the IRPP with oversight of Community Sponsorship Ireland, the Irish Red Cross now acts as a Regional Support Organisation (RSO) within the Community Sponsorship Ireland structure. The Irish Red Cross provides the necessary training, advice, guidance and support to interested community members who come together to form a CSI Group. The Irish Red Cross currently have two operational groups in Dublin and Meath incorporating a family of 4 and a family of 5 and are working with a further 4 community groups who are well into their preparations to sponsor more families.
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