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Migrant bodies’ funding slashed

Resource type: News

The Irish Times |

by RUADHáN MacCORMAIC IMMIGRATION:THE STATE’S advisory body on racism and intercultural affairs is to have all its Government funding withdrawn, while the Office of Integration will see its budget cut by a quarter. State funding of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) is to cease and some of its functions are to be absorbed by the Office of the Minister for Integration, Conor Lenihan. The NCCRI, which employs 13 people, has played a prominent role in advising Governmental and other bodies, recording racist incidents and researching immigration and social integration. It is also understood that three new integration bodies announced by Mr Lenihan last summer – a ministerial council, a taskforce and a commission – will be amalgamated into one group. According to the Budget allocations, funding for the Office of Integration itself is to fall by 26 per cent. Denis Naughten, Fine Gael spokesman on immigration and integration, noted that Mr Lenihan’s budget was being slashed at a time when reports of racially motivated attacks were increasing. “Now more than ever we need to focus on measures that promote integration, including the provision of language support. Instead, the Government has slashed this small, yet valuable fund,” he added. Mr Lenihan said he was not surprised by this “very large” reduction, which he said reflected the experience of Departments of State generally. Plans to make integration grants available to migrant-led groups, faith-based organisations and political parties would continue, he added. Although the NCCRI receives one-third of its funding from the EU and various research funds, the loss of its EUR 500,000 annual Government grant throws its future into question. The Immigrant Council of Ireland raised concern about the loss of funding for integration. “The need for effective integration policies and strategies may well become more acute during this recession,” chief executive Denise Charlton said. The Irish Refugee Council expressed disappointment that there was no increase in the weekly allowance for asylum seekers, which stands at EUR 19.10 for adults and EUR 9.60 for children. Chief executive Robin Hanan said this was the only social welfare payment never to have been improved since it was introduced in 2000.