Press Centre

President Higgins marks opening of new support centre for refugees and migrants

Update: Read the President's speech in full here.

Today (Friday 3rd October) President Michael D. Higgins officially launched a new collaboration between Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) and the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) at their shared offices at 37 Dame Street, Dublin 2.  The collaboration has commenced with a joint Drop-In Centre for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

Edel McGinley, MRCI Director, said “We are honoured to welcome President Higgins to open the new offices of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and the Irish Refugee Council. His dedication to the inclusion of those living on the margins reflects his lifelong commitment to justice, equality and human rights. His care for all people living in the state offers us hope and acts as a reminder that Ireland needs to remain a welcoming and safe country for migrant workers and for those fleeing persecution.”

Sue Conlan, CEO of the IRC, stated “The President's presence here today, and his recognition of our work, means a great deal to the migrants and refugees striving for recognition and fair treatment.  His vision of an inclusive society is refreshing and very timely.”

At the Centre, President Higgins met with migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from around the country.

Jayson Montenegro, who is undocumented, said “This is an historic day. After living undocumented in Ireland for over 11 years, I feel the visit of President Higgins really recognises us as part of Ireland. We are undocumented but we are part of this community. We are your neighbours, your friends, your colleagues. Ireland is our home”.

Siphathisiwe Moyo, speaking on behalf of a group of asylum seekers and refugees, said: “We are delighted that President Michael D. Higgins has included all of those present in Ireland as people that he works for.  We hope to be able to repay that honour by being a real part of our communities and not separated by our immigration status.”

END

NOTES

New IRC-MRCI Drop-In Centre: Centrally located on Dublin’s Dame Street, the centre is a new collaboration between the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) and Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), offering free and confidential information, advice and support to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers across Ireland. The IRC-MRCI Drop-In Centre is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 37 Dame Street, Dublin 2. Both organisations operate national helplines every weekday.

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) is Ireland’s only national non-governmental organisation which specialises in working with refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland. The main foci of IRC’s work is on those in the asylum system who are applying to be recognised as refugees and to work towards a just, fair and inclusive Irish society for people seeking protection.

For almost 20 years, the IRC have observed changes that have been made in response to the arrival of refugees in Ireland.  Based on extensive experience working directly with those affected, we have seen the huge financial cost of a failed system and the untold damage that has and is being done to men, women and children in the asylum process.

The IRC’s priorities are delivering high quality legal support to asylum seekers; supporting and protecting children and young people in the immigration system; public awareness; and capacity building among key players in the asylum system in order to bring about change to practice and policy.

The IRC is committed to promoting an asylum system that will be beneficial for refugees, the decision-maker, and the tax payer. For more information please see www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is a national organisation working for justice, equality and empowerment for migrants and their families.

MRCI uses a community work approach with a focus on participation, leadership and empowerment, and has a strong track record in securing policy changes – including the criminalisation of forced labour in 2013 and ratification of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention in 2014. Through MRCI groups like Justice for the Undocumented, the Domestic Workers Action Group and the Forced Labour Action Group, migrants campaign on the issues affecting them. Since 2001, MRCI caseworkers have assisted thousands of migrants with a wide range of employment and immigration issues, from severe labour exploitation and trafficking to family reunification and citizenship.

Current priorities include rights for undocumented migrants; identification and protection of victims of trafficking for forced labour; and employment rights and protections for vulnerable workers in low-paid, hidden, or precarious sectors, including workers in diplomatic households, au pairs, carers, domestic workers, and restaurant workers. For more information please see www.mrci.ie