Written Answers. - Programme Refugees.

Seán Haughey

Question:

88 Mr. Haughey asked the asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the current position regarding Bosnians now residing in this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [

The Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for programme refugees, who are admitted to Ireland by Government decision. I presume the Deputy is referring to Bosnians admitted to Ireland on this basis.

Since 1992, over 500 Bosnians have come to Ireland as programme refugees. Under the terms of a Government decision of 29 July 1995, approximately an additional 160 are expected to come here by the end of 1996, bringing the total number of Bosnian programme refugees in Ireland to almost 700.
These programme refugees can stay in Ireland for as long as they wish, and the Minister for Justice has agreed that they may apply for naturalisation as Irish citizens after three years' residence in Ireland.
Programme refugees are entitled to seek and enter employment and have the same access to public services as is afforded to Irish citizens. In recognition of the fact that refugees can have particular problems in accessing public services, or may at times need services geared to their special needs, the refugee agency looks after the reception and integration of programme refugees and is responsible for liaising between refugees and Departments, local authorities and other bodies in ensuring the provision of services to which refugees would be entitled.
The board of the refugee agency includes representatives of relevant Departments.