FactCheck: How many refugees is Ireland taking in at the moment?

One FactCheck reader was curious about a claim made by Simon Harris last week, so we looked into it.


THE DÁIL THIS week agreed to take in 200 additional unaccompanied children from the now disbanded refugee camp at Calais.

Before the vote, on last Sunday’s the Week in Politics, a panel discussed the proposal, and debated whether the Irish government had contributed enough to solving the refugee crisis.

Health Minister Simon Harris defended their record, claiming “There are now 40 migrants, or refugees, a fortnight, arriving in Ireland…”

Daithi Kennelly from Co Waterford wanted to know if this was really true, and got in touch with us on Twitter.

(Send your FactCheck requests to, tweet @TJ_FactCheck, or send us a DM).

Claim: Ireland is taking in 40 refugees every two weeks, at the moment
Verdict: Mostly TRUE

What was said: / YouTube

You can watch a short video of the relevant section from last Sunday’s the Week in Politics, above.

Our focus is on this claim by Simon Harris:

There are now 40 migrants, or refugees, a fortnight, arriving in Ireland under our resettlement and relocation programme that we’re partaking in.

The Facts

The programme Harris is referring to is the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP), which has two parts:

  • A refugee resettlement strand
  • An asylum-seeker relocation strand

According to figures provided to FactCheck by the Department of Justice, since the government’s commitment to take part, on 10 September 2015:

  • 507 individuals have arrived in Ireland under the resettlement strand, from Lebanon
  • 109 have arrived in Ireland from Greece, under the relocation strand
  • That’s 616 in total since 10 September 2015
  • From 10 September this year to 8 November this year, that’s an average of 10 refugees and asylum-seekers per week, over the course of 13 full months
  • Or 20 per fortnight.

It’s worth noting that while the government signed up to the programme on 10 September, obviously the relocation and resettlement itself started after that date.

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice was unable to provide a comprehensive monthly or weekly breakdown of the figures since September 2015, which would have been helpful.

However, we know that on 6 July, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald announced that “273 refugees have already arrived from Lebanon”.

So between 10 September and 6 July (a period of 43 weeks), 273 refugees had arrived from Lebanon, a rate of nearly 13 per fortnight.

And from 7 July to 8 November (a period of 18 weeks), 234 refugees had arrived from Lebanon, a rate of 13 per week, or 26 per fortnight.

So when it comes to the resettlement strand, from Lebanon, we know the numbers are increasing.

12/9/2015. Refugees Welcomes To Ireland Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The Department of Justice also told FactCheck:

The relocation strand of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme is now interviewing more than 80 asylum seekers at a time in Athens every month for relocation to Ireland from Greece as a single group.
This represents a relocation to Ireland of approximately 40 persons a fortnight from this cohort alone.
40 arrived last Thursday week and the next group arriving this month will include approximately 60 persons. Thereafter it is expected that regular groups of more than 80 a month will arrive under the relocation strand alone.

So we have the numbers to show that in the last three or four months, the number of individuals arriving from Lebanon under the resettlement strand has doubled from 13 to 26 per fortnight, and is therefore increasing.

And we have a written, on-the-record affirmation from the Department of Justice that, under the asylum-seeker relocation strand from Greece, the recent estimated number of arrivals per fortnight has been between 30 and 40.

This yields a combined total of at least 40 refugees and asylum-seekers per fortnight.

Taking into account the unfortunate (and somewhat surprising) absence of a precise weekly or monthly breakdown of the figures, and the somewhat ambiguous meaning of “now” in Minister Harris’s statement, we rate this claim Mostly TRUE.’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here.

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