Holy cow! 96 mi­grants get grants and free f lights to go home

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Ken Foxe

A MILK­ING cow, a sec­ond-hand car, and a lad­der and paints were among the items pur­chased last year by the tax­payer as part of a scheme for re­turn­ing mi­grants to their home coun­tries.

Un­der the Vol­un­tary As­sisted Re­turn and Rein­te­gra­tion pro­gramme, the State pro­vides sup­port of up to €1,000 as well as free flights to en­cour­age peo­ple to leave Ire­land. Last year, al­most €980,000 was spent on the scheme to sup­port send­ing 96 peo­ple home, which av­er­ages at over €10,000 per per­son.

Those who qual­ify for the scheme can get €600 per in­di­vid­ual or €1,000 per fam­ily to sup­port their rein­te­gra­tion back home.

In­for­ma­tion ob­tained un­der Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion leg­is­la­tion re­veals a wide va­ri­ety of small busi­ness grants from last year for ap­pli­cants to set up their own busi­ness. Ac­cord­ing to the Jus­tice Depart­ment, the busi­ness ideas in­cluded, ‘the pur­chase of equip­ment to open a bak­ery; pur­chase of ma­te­ri­als to work as a painter, the pur­chase of cloth­ing to set up a cloth­ing stall, the pur­chase of a milk­ing cow, pur­chase of a sec­ond-hand car to work as a taxi driver, and the pur­chase of equip­ment to work as a welder’.

In the past, other grants have helped peo­ple set up a beauty sa­lon, a car re­pair shop, and an en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness.

Ap­pli­cants can also get grants to help them learn a new skill that they can put to use in find­ing work. Among the suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tions in 2017 were a per­son who was given le­gal sec­re­tar­ial train­ing and an­other who took part in a ‘con­tin­u­ous pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment phar­macy course’ to en­sure the per­son could con­tinue to work in the phar­macy pro­fes­sion.

Grants are also avail­able for other needs in­clud­ing help with chronic med­i­cal con­di­tions. Of the 96 who took part, 34 were from Brazil, seven from Ukraine, five from Malawi and five from Georgia. The na­tion­al­ity of the other 45 ap­pli­cants were not given.

The Depart­ment of Jus­tice said a ‘sig­nif­i­cant num­ber’ of il­le­gal mi­grants from non-EU coun­tries and asy­lum seek­ers whose cases have not been de­cided choose to vol­un­tar­ily re­turn home.

‘[The fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance] can be an im­por­tant fac­tor in en­cour­ag­ing in­di­vid­u­als to make the de­ci­sion to avail of the vol­un­tary re­turn op­tion and eases the tran­si­tion back to their coun­tries of ori­gin.’

The prin­ci­pal ad­van­tage for those in the scheme is they can ap­ply to legally en­ter Ire­land in the fu­ture.

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