Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has briefed the Cabinet on a proposal to allow 530 refugees to apply to be reunited with family members who are already living in Ireland.

The scheme will apply to those living in conflict zones such as Syria.

Under the law, only refugees who are spouses or children under 18 years of age can apply to be reunited with family members who are settled here.

Last week, a bill to extend the definition to others including parents and grandparents passed committee stage in the Seanad.

It was opposed by the Government, which indicated that the minister would use his discretionary powers to reunite other immediate family members not covered under the law.

Mr Flanagan and Minister of State David Stanton proposed that 530 places for such relatives be provided over the next two years.

Speaking on his way into Leinster House, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he expects "the country will continue to send our message that Ireland is a compassion country."