Dáil Éireann - Volume 526 - 15 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.
Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin
134. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will bring legislative proposals to Government to establish, on a statutory basis, the new agency to deal with the reception of asylum seekers and the integration of refugees; the terms of reference of this agency; if it will be independent of his Department; if it will have its own budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25762/00]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): On 28 March 2000, the Government agreed with my recommendations for a statutory agency, under the aegis of my Department, to be called the Reception and Integration Agency. Pending the enactment of legislation the agency will operate on a non-statutory basis.
This decision follows an earlier decision of the Government that the recommendations in the report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on the Integration of Refugees in Ireland should form the framework for integration policy and be implemented. The establishment of a single organisational structure – within the overall framework of structures for asylum and immigration – for co-ordinating and implementing integration policy is one of the key recommendations of the working group. The Reception and Integration Agency will be the vehicle for implementing this recommendation and its establishment will facilitate a cohesive, co-ordinated approach to both the reception of asylum seekers and the integration of refugees. The agency will have responsibility for planning and co-ordinating the provision of services to both asylum seekers and refugees; co-ordinating and implementing integration policy for all refugees and persons who, though not refugees, are granted leave to remain; and responding to conflict crisis situations which result in relatively large numbers of refugees arriving in Ireland within a short period of time, for example, the Kosovar nationals who were invited here by the Government last year.
As I indicated in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 49 on 5 October Iast, I intend to bring legislative proposals to Government to put the Reception and Integration Agency on a statutory basis as soon as other legislative priorities permit. As the Government has not yet had the opportunity to consider any such proposals, any definitive comment by me at this stage in relation  to delegation of authority or budgetary control would be inappropriate. However, I can say that in line with the Government's strategic management initiative and the approach adopted in relation to other agencies in the Justice area, my intention is that the Reception and Integration Agency will have operational independence in its day to day activities, have its own board and its own budget.
Dáil Éireann 526 Written Answers. Proposed Legislation.