Refugee and Migrant project

Refugee and Migrant Project of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

This Council comes under the Episcopal Commission for Social Issues and International Affairs

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The Refugee and Migrant Project is currently under review.

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The Refugee and Migrant Project is an outreach project of the Council for Justice and Peace (formerly ICJSA), which is chaired by:

Bishop John McAreavey


Recognising the need for a Church response to the growing numbers of people seeking asylum in Ireland, the decision was made by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference (IBC), at its meeting of March 1999, to set up the Refugee Project.

The objectives of the Refugee Project are

  • to act as a well-informed resource to the Bishops’ Conference and to individual bishops on asylum, refugee and related issues
  • to promote awareness, information and education within the Church and the community at large regarding the nature of asylum, the needs of asylum seekers and refugees and related issues
  • to contribute to the pastoral care of refugees and asylum seekers by being a resource for relevant Church Commissions with specific areas of pastoral responsibility, such as Pastoral, Liturgy, Doctrine, Education
  • to contribute to public policy debate on asylum, refugee and related issues

Although set up under the aegis of three Commissions, including the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace (now the Council for Justice and Peace) it was agreed that the Project would be located and would operate within ICJP on a day-to-day basis. With the establishment later of Departments within the IBC, the Project was assigned to the Department of Social Issues and International Affairs and its brief expanded to include migrants in order to reflect their presence in the country in increasing numbers.


The Project initiated and facilitates the Churches’ Asylum Network (CAN) which meets six times annually and brings together members of Christian Churches/communities, including delegates of Catholic dioceses, working with and on behalf of refugees and migrants around the country. Sanctuary, a bi-monthly newsletter, covers asylum, refugee and migrant matters, nationally and internationally, from a religious perspective. Published by the Project, the flyer Who’s Who? (2007), is a reader-friendly guide to the various categories of newcomers to Ireland and their rights and entitlements.In conjunction with other organisations, the Project is in ongoing discussion with various statutory and other bodies on a range of issues relating to rights and entitlements of people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants. Working with CAN, a response to the draft Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 has been submitted to Government. The Project is a member of Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT is associated with the Conference of Religious in Ireland/Irish Missionary Union) and part of APT’s Working Group on Legislation and Policy.

Nationally, the Refugee and Migrant Project participates in several Inter-Church initiatives including those which promote the integration of newcomers to the country, address racial justice issues, and enable contact with minority ethnic Churches.

At European level, the project is actively involved in the Migration Working Groups of the:

  • Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, ComECE
  • Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe CCEE
  • Caritas Europa

and has close links with the

  • International Catholic Migration Commission ICMC and the
  • Conference of European Churches, CEC

Useful links

Church organisations

Vincentian Refugee Centre
Provides services for people seeking asylum, refugees and people with permission to remain in the State

Works with asylum seekers, refugees and other disadvantaged migrant groups, with special concern for survivors of torture

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Ireland


Works with and for women involved in prostitution and with and on behalf of trafficked persons

Parish Integration Programme (PIP) and the All-Ireland Churches’ Consultative meeting on Racism (AICCMR) of the Irish Churches’ Commission on Social Issues / Irish Inter-Church Meeting

EMBRACE, Northern Ireland
A group of Christians working together to promote a positive response to people seeking asylum, refugees, migrant workers and minority ethnic people in Northern Ireland

Churches Racial Justice Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

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