Irish Community Sponsorship Programme

A programme which invites villages, towns and parishes across Ireland to “sponsor” a vulnerable refugee family.

Contact details

Submitted by: Jody Clarke, Senior External Relations Associate

Email: [email protected]


Social: UNHCR Ireland

Introduction to the project




2018 - present


Ireland announced the launch of a new community sponsorship programme in March 2019. The programme invites villages, towns and parishes across Ireland to “sponsor” a vulnerable refugee family. This will allow people fleeing war and persecution to seek refuge in Irish communities.

This programme differs from traditional resettlement programmes, which are usually state-led. In this programme, groups of private citizens are given the opportunity to sponsor and welcome refugees.

Refugees arrive following a UNHCR selection and a vetting process overseen by the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

Main activities of the Good Practice

Community sponsorship is an alternative resettlement stream to the traditional state-centered model of resettlement.

In 2015, Ireland pledged to resettle 4,000 refugees. Community sponsorship is contributing to this objective.


Irish Department of Justice

How challenges were overcome

Encouraging community groups to sponsor refugees was identified as an early challenge.

However, NGOs and other voluntary organisations around the country have worked hard to inform local groups about the potential of the programme and to encourage them to participate.

Results of the Good Practice

A pilot of the programme saw the town of Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, welcome a Syrian family last December. It is expected that up to 50 refugees will arrive in Ireland during the pilot phase of community sponsorship, which will last until October 2019.

This responds to the GCR objective number 3, i.e. expanding access to third country solutions.

UNHCR was instrumental in the creation of the programme, working with the Irish government and NGOs to draft the model for its operation here.