Minister warns of ‘real risk’ of lack of housing for all refugees in coming weeks

Roderic O’Gorman says finding accommodation for single adults could be impossible

Ireland will not be able to find accommodation for all of the refugees and asylum seekers arriving here in the coming weeks, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has warned.

While efforts will be made to source accommodation for people with children there is a “real risk” that it will not be possible to find housing for single adults.

The Government is under huge pressure to provide accommodation for tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine as well as increased numbers of asylum seekers from elsewhere.

Mr O’Gorman said there were about 70,000 people from Ukraine in Ireland with the State providing accommodation for about 54,000 of those. There are also 19,000 international protection applicants being housed by the State.


Speaking on Newstalk Radio’s On the Record programme, Mr O’Gorman said the number of refugees and asylum seekers arriving from various different countries was “significant”.

He added: “We have a very real situation coming into the next week where we won’t be able to accommodate everybody arriving here.”

The Green Party Minister said the Citywest Transit Hub was likely to close to new arrivals within days, though it will still process them.

He said efforts would be made to ensure accommodation would be provided for vulnerable people – giving the example of those bringing children. Mr O’Gorman added: “There is a real risk that those maybe travelling... as single adults won’t be accommodated over the next number of weeks.”

People would be offered food vouchers for meals “but we won’t be in a position to offer accommodation to everybody”.

The Government was said to be working on “some contingencies” and there is an expectation that some additional accommodation of varying sizes will come on stream towards the end of February.

The Government has worked with Ukrainian ambassador Larysa Gerasko to spread the message that if people were in a safe location in Ukraine, now was not the time to come to Ireland.

Mr O’Gorman said that some 15,000 people from Ukraine had found their own accommodation in Ireland. He said people who did not have their own arrangements “can’t be automatically guaranteed accommodation here at the moment... because of the pressure we’re under”.

Hundreds of people turned out at counter protests near the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin’s city centre on Saturday afternoon, with pro- and anti-immigration campaigners on opposite sides of the road. The anti-immigration rally, Dublin Says No, attracted about 300 people, while the counter rally, made up of about 250 people, took place across the road.

Separately, a British modular building construction company has lobbied the Government about a proposal to provide refugee accommodation.

Stelling Properties Ltd has presented proposals to provide 20 modular homes on a private site at Cork Airport Hotel which could offer housing for 60 Ukrainian refugees.

The lobbying late last year of then-tánaiste Leo Varadkar, former taoiseach Micheál Martin and others was carried out by Pinnacle Public Affairs, a consultancy firm set up by former Fine Gael minister of state Paudie Coffey and Paul Fox, a former adviser to Helen McEntee.

There are plans for the Office of Public Works (OPW) to deliver 700 modular homes for refugees around the country with the first 200 due to be delivered early this year.

The Government offered no indication of the status of any consideration of proposal from Winchester-based Stelling Properties.

A statement said: “Stelling Properties are not involved in the programme of rapid build modular homes.”

Stelling Properties did not offer any details on how much its proposal would cost the State.

A statement said: “As the proposal is still under consideration, we will not be making any further comment in relation to this matter and we await hearing from the Government.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times