Ireland expects to receive 20 to 30 refugees from Syria before the end of this year as part of the relocation programme announced by the Government last month for 3,500 people fleeing Middle East war zones.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said Ireland would be among the first countries not on the front-line of the recent wave of migration to receive refugees as part of the EU initiative.

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme Taskforce, established last month, held its second meeting as the Government  announced that under a long-standing refugee programme 100 refugees had arrived here so far this year and another 100 were expected before the year's end.

Minister Fitzgerald said there has been a delay in establishing registration hot-spots in Italy and Greece and that many refugees are not signing on with the authorities there.

She said once hot spots have been more firmly established, the number of refugees who can be allocated to be considered for acceptance in Ireland will accelerate.

Meanwhile, the Irish Red Cross said it has received 550 pledges of accommodation for refugees under the relocation programme.

IRC Secretary General Liam O'Dwyer said 220 offers involve single dwellings, while the balance involves sharing accommodation that is already occupied.

He said the organization will be assessing the suitability of the offers over the coming month.

He added that the State has also received 160 offers of assistance with education, counseling and health services, which are being co-ordinated by NGOs, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Social Protection.

Work ongoing to improve asylum system - Minister 

Minister of State at the Department of Justice Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said there is quite a lot of work going on in order to make Ireland's system for dealing with asylum seekers and refugees more transparent and more humane.

He was speaking ahead of a meeting of the task force set up to co-ordinate the intake of refugees from Syria and other countries.

Minister Ó Ríordáin said a separate task force, set up to find solutions for about 450 people who have leave to remain in Ireland but cannot leave direct provision accommodation due to the housing shortage, had met for the last time last week and would now come under the auspices of the wider protection task force.

The minister said there were a number of things to deal with, not least the increasing number of asylum applications in Ireland this year.

He said the Government also had to implement the recommendations of the Direct Provision Working Group report and to implement and enact the International Protection bill.

218 migrants rescued by LÉ Samuel Beckett

Earlier, 218 people were rescued from the Mediterranean by the crew of the LÉ Samuel Beckett.

85 people were taken from a 12-metre rubber vessel found near the Libyan city of Tripoli at 5am during a search and rescue patrol.

Shortly after, another 12m craft was found with 133 people, including a pregnant woman and six children, on board.

The rescued migrants are receiving food, water and medical attention on board the Irish vessel as it continues to patrol the area.

Meanwhile, the external relations officer with the United Nation's human rights organisation said the number of refugees arriving in Ireland over the coming months will be manageable.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One programme, Jody Clarke said preparations have been made to make the process as easy as possible.

Earlier, the Immigrant Council of Ireland said the Government must have a robust integration plan for refugees arriving in Ireland.

The council, which responds to 5,000 immigration queries a year, says that providing shelter is just the first step to ensuring that those fleeing terror are given a proper opportunity to restart their lives.

Tánaiste Joan Burton has said Ireland can accept, over a period of time, up to 5,000 refugees and there will not be a cut-off at that figure.

Ireland is projected to receive 4,000 people over a two-year period, with roughly a hundred people expected to arrive a month.

Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council, said: "Much of the initial focus of the Government's plans has been to identify where refugees can be accommodated - it is an obvious first priority.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Killoran said "there are many other elements required if those forced to flee for their lives are to be given an opportunity to call Ireland home".

"Ministers need to outline further their proposals on how they will reunite those who have been torn apart from their loved ones, either through conflict or during the long and hazardous journey to the relative safety of Europe.

"At present, family reunifications involve a cumbersome process which must be made efficient, fair and transparent," Mr Killoran said.

He said it is important those arriving in Ireland are given access to information on how the Government intends to respect their rights and ensure that the humanitarian response which has been demanded by people across Ireland finally becomes a reality.

Mr Killoran told Morning Ireland that the timeframe gives the Government a chance to prepare properly. 

"We actually have an opportunity to plan for something now because we know there is a time frame and we know generally how much the Irish Government has committed to accepting so we can plan different things like accommodation, we can plan support needs around languages, qualifications all those kinds of things," he said.

He added it is likely that refugees will be dispersed around the country and the Government has said it will take roughly 12 weeks to process refugees.

In a statement the Department of Justice said it is currently assessing the commercial offers it received to operate and service the proposed Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres which will accommodate refugees that are brought to Ireland.  

The department sought commercial expressions of interest to provide premises capable of housing at least 70 people in single, shared and family type rooms, that also include en-suite rooms, play areas, recreation rooms and offices for medical assessments and interview space.  

The closing date for expressions of interest was 23 October. 

Meanwhile, Irish aid agency GOAL has called on the US to continue to provide funding for humanitarian aid for Syria.

Speaking on the same programme, Barry Andrews said he will raise the issue when he meets with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations committee.

Mr Andrews said he did not believe the international community was doing enough to help the situation in Syria.

He said GOAL had been highly critical of US inertia in the past. 

218 migrants rescued by LÉ Samuel Beckett

Earlier, 218 people were rescued from the Mediterranean by the crew of the LÉ Samuel Beckett.

85 people were taken from a 12-metre rubber vessel found near the Libyan city of Tripoli at 5am during a search and rescue patrol.

Shortly after, another 12m craft was found with 133 people, including a pregnant woman and six children, on board.

The rescued migrants are receiving food, water and medical attention on board the Irish vessel as it continues to patrol the area.