Bringing the Family Together: The Challenges of Family Reunification for Migrant Families Settling in Ireland

South Leinster Citizens Information Service (SLCIS) have recently hosted a webinar on family reunification called Bringing the Family Together: The Challenges of Family Reunification for Migrant Families Settling in Ireland. The event was funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board (CIB).

It came about as a result of a recommendation from a 2018 social policy report, Learning from a Resettlement Project – Somali Families in Arklow: A View of Resettlement, Reunification and Integration.

The presenters were diverse and included Dr Sally Daly and Azad Izzeddin, UCD, who provided an academic view of family reunification issues whilst Ahmed Hassan Mohamed’s, Doras ( the migrant rights organisation), painted a clear picture of practice at grass roots level. Geralyn McGarry, Social Policy and Research Manager, set the context for the work of CIB in this area. Martina Cronin, Development Manager, Wicklow CIC acted as MC and along with Anne O’Brien, SLCIS Chair, outlined the work of South Leinster CIS. The participation of Hayat Alselman who explained the challenges of her journey from Syria and Faysal Muse Mohamed who came from Somalia provided a powerful insight into the experiences of migrant families in Ireland.

As outlined in her introduction, Anne O’Brien, SLCIS Chair said the webinar “gives us an opportunity to listen to and hear, first-hand, the migrant experience in Ireland and to share the expertise of key agencies who support and advance the implementation of human rights for migrants in Ireland. It provides a platform from which networking and collaborative practices can be facilitated to further enhance the work being done”.

This event showcased how South Leinster CIS is working to develop a human rights context in their work with migrant communities. One of its aims is to help demonstrate and build capacity of its Development Managers and Information Officers to better report social policy issues of immigration. This will then impact positively on the immigrant experience in Ireland.

Martina Cronin added: “It is hoped the webinar opened hearts and minds and most importantly, developed the fervour to take on the obstacles and overcome the barriers that exist in Ireland for the migrant community. It will be crucial to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all our people and especially for those who have travelled long journeys to Ireland in search of a place of safety, security and dignity to call their own and in which to live out their lives with their families.”

Some feedback from the participants:

“Not only very informative but extremely educational (in the broad sense) in relation to getting an insight into the lives and issues faced by refugees and their families.”

“Thank you so much. Approaching this topic from a human rights perspective and hearing from those who have experienced the process was a breath of fresh air. Very enjoyable and informative.”

“Great to get an insight into all the good work happening on the ground and behind each ‘case’ is a person or a family”.

“It was interesting to hear the extent and the complexity of the issues. I was appreciative of the distinction that the speakers made between the Reunification Process and the Resettlement Programme and the implications.”