Hundreds of asylum seekers to remain on streets as Coalition moves to quell local tensions

Ministers and Garda Commissioner agree that finding accommodation an ‘absolute priority’ while Government asks Clare residents to drop barricade at asylum seeker site

Hundreds of asylum seekers will remain on the streets in the coming days with only six offered accommodation on Thursday.

The Coalition is struggling to contain rising tensions around the country, as hundreds of recently arrived asylum seekers remain without State-provided accommodation. With only six asylum seekers offered accommodation on Thursday, 509 remain without somewhere to stay, including 12 who presented on Thursday.

The Government has said that about 350 beds will become available in the next number of days.

The Government will now move to increase the level of liaison between Ministers and Garda around the provision of accommodation across the country amid continued tensions over the location of shelter for international protection applicants.


On Thursday evening, Minister of State for Integration Joe O’Brien visited Co Clare and proposed that the blockade of a site for asylum seekers be lifted for a four-week period, and that there would be no extra arrivals of international protection applicants during that time. A delegation representing local residents will now bring this proposal to the wider community for discussion.

Roads leading to and from the former Magowna House Hotel in Inch, Co Clare have been blocked off by local protests this week after 33 asylum seekers were moved there last week – despite calls from the Taoiseach to lift the blockade.

Mr O’Brien said some residents were “very unhappy with how the information was communicated, they had various concerns about the location as well”. He said the representatives of the local area “feel angry about how they have been portrayed” and wanted to emphasise that they are not associated with the far-right.

In recent weeks, homeless camps have been targeted by anti-immigrant protesters. In total, gardaí have responded to 125 anti-migration protests in Dublin so far this year.

Following a meeting between Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, Minister for Justice Simon Harris and Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman, it is now expected there will be greater liaison between the Government and gardaí.

A spokesman for Mr Harris said the Ministers and the Garda Commissioner agreed that finding accommodation for currently unaccommodated international protection applicants was an “absolute priority for the safety of the individuals involved”.

The ongoing liaison between An Garda Síochána and the Government on the general provision of accommodation was also discussed. “The Ministers and commissioner recommitted themselves to further develop on this, including at a local level,” a spokesman said.

Mr Harris also “reassured the commissioner of the Government’s ongoing support for their work”.

The commissioner also told Ministers that a number of investigations were under way into recent incidents and that these were “live and active”.

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said efforts were under way to bring an end to the blockade. Speaking in Dublin, he repeated that the blockade was wrong and no community could have a veto on who should, or should not, live in their area.

“The blockade should end. It’s not right for anyone to block a public road or to block access to someone’s accommodation. So I’m very clear about that. But we also don’t want to dismiss concerns.

“I don’t want to get into the detail of that at the moment, but there will be further engagement with the local community there,” he said.

“I think it is important that people’s concerns are listened to, that they’re provided information, that communication takes place, but also it’s very important to be clear as a Government, [that] no community, nobody, has a veto on who should or should not live in your area and we can’t allow that.”

On Wednesday, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said hotels ending their contracts with the State to house migrants had put pressure on the system for housing migrants, and that the Government was still playing catch-up.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times