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Cabinet Meeting

Extra staff to be hired to improve communications and tackle disinformation on migration

Justice Minister Helen McEntee is to add more countries to the government’s safe list shortly.

LAST UPDATE | 2 May

EXTRA STAFF WILL be hired to work across government to improve communication on migration and integration at a local and national level, with a senior civil servant tasked to head up the effort to be appointed to the Department of Integration. 

The Cabinet committee on migration met this afternoon, where ministers agreed that work is to get underway to challenge disinformation and improve communications. 

The communications plan aims to dial down the divisive rhetoric around migration and highlight the fact that thousands of immigrants are working in vital sectors in Irish society.  

Sources state they are keen to highlight that some 400,000 immigrants hold jobs in various sectors such as health, hospitality, tech, pharma, and reiterated that international protection applicants are only a fraction of those that are in the country.

Ministers expressed concerns that vital migrant workers are beginning to feel isolated and fearful given the rising tensions around asylum seekers. 

Communication by government around migration has long been criticised both by opposition and from politicians within coalition parties. 

Government intends to push the message that ‘we need to help people’ and ‘we need a discussion’, with sources stating that there are concerns that the far-right are dictating the narrative. 

This isn’t the first time the government has discussed rolling out a communications campaign.

Over a year ago, a senior officials group began drafting a communications plan to deal with the timing of the release of information safely to communities and local representatives. It was also intended that factual information would be presented to the public around migration issues. 

The new communications plan was hoped to prevent future protests about the housing of refugees by providing more clarity to local areas and local politicians. However, no large-scale plan was launched. The Journal understands that there was significant pushback against the roll out of such a campaign within the Department of An Taoiseach. 

This afternoon, the committee also heard updates around applications, processing times and deportations as well as updates from local authorities on refurbished properties.

Safe countries list

Justice Minister Helen McEntee told the committee that she will be announcing more safe countries as soon as reviews are complete.

She told the meeting that fast processing times for safe countries has reduced the numbers of people coming to Ireland from those countries by 50%.

The meeting comes after “just under” 290 people were removed from an encampment outside the International Protection Office (IPO) on Mount Street during a multi-agency operation yesterday.

They have been relocated to alternative accommodation at Citywest and the Crooksling tented accommodation site.

At today’s meeting, discussions also centered around how government agencies have to be ready for more attempts to set down tents in the city centre, with ministers understood to have said they are determined not to allow it “fester”.

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