Officials fear heightened tensions at the Citywest transit hub could spill over during Ramadan, when Muslims observing the fasting period are eating at night while other residents are sleeping.
The warning is contained in papers supplied to Ministers ahead of a meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on the Ukraine crisis response, which also looks at the wider issue of refugee accommodation.
Ministers were warned that tensions at the transit hub which has been closed to new arrivals since January, are high between different ethnic and religious groups. More than 730 people are sleeping at the hub, which has 600 beds.
Some people have been sleeping on chairs for weeks at a time, Ministers were told, with staff now working to avoid Ramadan exacerbating existing tensions – it is understood officials fear that those observing Ramadan, who eat at night, might disturb those who are trying to sleep.
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The meeting was told that there is a projected shortfall of 1,228 beds by the middle of April, with a cohort of people currently accommodated face being left without beds. Government sources said these situations had been confronted previously, but a briefing for Ministers is said to outline that some single men and couples living in hotels where contracts are ending on Saturday might not be offered new accommodation.
The number of people without a bed is likely to increase next month, officials told Ministers, because the demand of those leaving their lodgings, coupled with those coming into the country, is greater than the number of hotel beds that might come on stream via new contracts.
While protests against the settlement of refugees or asylum seekers have not been as high profile in recent weeks, Ministers were told of a protest last week at the Mullingar Barracks, where modular housing is being developed. The protesters chained the gates of the barracks and stopped a bus of international protection applicants from going inside. The protest has made exit and entry difficult, and Garda support has been needed for contractors and international protection applicants coming or going from the site, where there is currently tented accommodation.
Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and the City and County Managers Association have been asked to identify “rest centre” type accommodation to house those living in direct provision who have leave to remain in the country.
More than 5,000 people are living in direct provision with this status and the Government is anxious that they move out of the centres to free up capacity for those arriving whose status has not been determined. Those with leave to remain are expected to struggle to secure private rented accommodation, however, even though they are eligible for State supports.
The Government has written to these people several times in the last year, with more letters due to issue shortly – the Cabinet subcommittee was told a further 150 are planned. Ministers were told that, in the future, people in this category will be asked to leave the accommodation within a year of being granted leave to remain.