One Syrian family explains the struggle of starting life again in Ireland

Getting a driving licence, making Irish friends and racism are some of the biggest challenges refugees face here.

From Syria to Sligo via Dublin and Meath, one family fleeing war has been telling us about the difficulties of starting a new life.

Mahmoud Alragheb, his wife and children left Syria in 2015. They took the perilous journey to Greece before being brought to Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Program.

The 36 year old says living in a rural part of Meath, away from local residents, has made it difficult to integrate with Irish people.

"We need community with people. That's what we want. To get friends."

The family were brought here under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme which aims to move them out of Emergency Reception Orientation Centres (EROC) within 8 to 12 weeks.

Mahmoud and his family have spent 17 months in Mosney Accommodation Centre.

Despite living in the countryside between Balbriggan and Drogheda, the 36 year old managed to find a job in Dublin; working overnights in a security company. He says he did witness racism on public transport.

"A little bit on the Luas. I see people and they tell me 'go back to your country'."

One of the biggest hurdles so far has been affording car insurance and finding a fully license driver to accompany him while on the learner permit

"I'm driving for 18 years but they didn't accept my license here. We need a car because we live so far from town. You need to take the children to school or maybe going to the hospital... Some people have paid 3 grand (for insurance) or 5 grand. And even when learning, you cannot drive a lone. You need someone who has a full license. And that is so hard because from where will I get someone to go with me every time?"

His son and daughter are 7 and 8, and because of the war, they'd never been to school until they came to Ireland. He says it's sad to take them out of school in Laytown and Duleek where they have been settling in very well and making friends.

Having owned a construction company in Aleppo, Mahmoud's dream is to build a house in Ireland. Although he's excited about independent living and a new home in Sligo, he's apprehensive about starting all over again. 

"I'm just worried about making friends... and about school. My children are first and after that? We'll see what happens there."