Words: Ellen Kenny
Asylum seekers who have recently entered Ireland have been sleeping rough due to a shortage of accommodation in direct provision.
The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) said it was helping 27 people try to source accommodation on Wednesday. A spokesperson said these numbers will “likely increase as the day progresses”.
According to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, available accommodation “reached capacity last week” due to a “sustained high number of people seeking accommodation”.
Since February, almost 37,500 people have fled the war in Ukraine and sought accommodation in Ireland. 15,000 international protection applicants from elsewhere also currently require accommodation. This means the Department is now accommodating more than 51,000 people, compared to 7,500 this time last year.
The spokesperson said that the situation represented a “breakdown” in Ireland’s reception of people seeking protection and was “deeply concerning and unacceptable.”
“To have the State totally failing to provide protection applicants with anywhere else to sleep but the streets, in this weather, is unprecedented.”
“For people fleeing conflict, war and persecution to find themselves homeless represents a failure in our policies and systems. We strongly urge the Government to meet its obligations under the law and to prioritise the health, safety and dignity of those exercising their right to seek international protection.”
According to the spokesperson, the State is now in breach of the Reception Conditions Directive, and must act immediately.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth also confirmed that they have an agreement with Sport Ireland to utilise part of its Abbotstown facility. This facility is expected to be operational on Wednesday evening. The Department now believes it will be “able to resume offering accommodation to all international protection applicants who present.”
There are currently 12,000 people in direct provision, including 2,800 children. It takes, on average, more than two years to process an asylum application to completion, according to the Department of Justice. The United Nations previously recommended that Ireland reduce the application process for asylum to six months.
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