State runs out of accommodation for new Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers

Taoiseach and Ministers to meet over ‘severe shortage’ of accommodation as Citywest transit hub for new arrivals reaches full capacity

Accommodation currently being provided for Ukrainian refugees at Citywest in west Dublin has reached capacity. Photograph: Jade Wilson, The Irish Times

The State has run out of accommodation for new Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers with the Citywest facility in west Dublin reaching full capacity.

The Department of Children told a briefing of Irish NGOs supporting Ukrainians on Wednesday that it has had to pause the intake of new arrivals into existing State accommodation because it had run out of available beds and space at Citywest and has no immediate contingency plan in place.

The shortage of accommodation means that any Ukrainians or asylum seekers arriving into the State over the next 48 hours may be stranded in an airport without a bed.

The Citywest conference centre is accommodating more than 1,000 people who have fled the war in Ukraine and is at full capacity, forcing the Government to seek an alternative transit hub in the Dublin region for any new Ukrainians arriving into Dublin Airport.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin will meet senior ministers on Thursday to discuss the situation and “review the current policies and processes,” a Government spokeswoman said.

She said there had been a “very significant” increase in the number of people seeking asylum in recent weeks and this has caused a “severe shortage” of available accommodation for both Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers.

“This is causing overcrowding in the Citywest transit hub,” she said. “Incoming arrivals overnight will remain in Dublin Airport if they do not have an alternative source of accommodation. Government is working intensively to put alternative arrangements in place with immediate effect.”

Capacity issues at the Citywest conference facility became so great that the State had to source food from outside suppliers in addition to the catering available on site.

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As of Monday 40,678 people had arrived into the State from Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24th, including 1,454 last week.

NGOs were asked at the briefing whether they had any available accommodation or immediate access to accommodation. “I imagine the department is scrambling around looking for accommodation. We don’t know what is going to happen with anyone coming in through the airport tonight or tomorrow,” said one NGO source.

The large tented village being built for Ukrainian refugees at Gormanston army camp in Co Meath is expected to open to new arrivals within the next week.

The Government spokeswoman said: “Ensuring the security, health and safety of people who are fleeing Ukraine has been, and remains, a top priority for the Government since the Russian attack began in February. Most of the people arriving in Ireland are women and children.”

Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, said it was “very concerning to reach this point.”

“It is plain to see that conditions in direct provision have deteriorated drastically in recent months. There is urgent need for a new plan to address this unprecedented situation,” he told The Irish Times.

There was a particular need for other Government departments to be “pulling their weight to support the Department of Children,” he said, with a “fundamental need to ensure basic health and safety and child protection.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times