Labour peer urges Home Office to allow child refugees into Northern Ireland

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Labour peer Alf Dubs in Belfast

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan

A Labour Party peer in Britain has asked the Home office to unblock any legal objection so that some unaccompanied child refugees can be brought to Northern Ireland.

Lord Alf Dubs said: “Because there is no Assembly at present, I have asked a Home Minister to unblock any legal objection as there are people in Northern Ireland who are willing to take some of the children who are presently stranded in Europe.”

Lord Dubs was in Belfast recently to speak at the 2018 Immigration Conference at the offices of the Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI).

The event was organised by the LSNI Immigration Practitioner’s Group

Alf Dubs arrived in Britain on a train from Prague in 1939 when he was just six years old. He was one of 10,000 Jewish and other children rescued by the Kindertransport in the two years before the outbreak of World War Two.

Explaining the background, Lord Dubs said: “We know that there are thousands of unaccompanied refugee children in Europe. The idea of the Dubs Scheme was to try and get the UK government to take some of them.

It is known as the Dubs scheme after Lord Dubs, who was the architect of the policy which requires ministers to make arrangements to relocate and support unaccompanied refugee children from Europe.

“Although our amendment got through both houses in Parliament we had to drop the 3,000 figure we were seeking. Then the Government said it was going to cap the figure at 480 in 2016. They said that local authorities had no more foster parents.

“We said we didn’t agree with that as we knew plenty of local authorities in England who were willing to take some of the children.

“We’re at loggerheads with the Government over the numbers.

“We want the Government to commit to taking 10,000 children over 10 years. It’s the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport now. We took 10,000 in one year then, we could take 10,000 in 10 years now. It’s such a small ask, surely we can do it.”

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