Asylum seekers forced to sleep rough can avail of ‘drop-in’ centres

Government is currently not in a position to provide accommodation to all international protection applicants, Department of Integration has said

Asylum seekers forced to sleep rough due to an expected lack of State accommodation will have access to drop-in centres during the day and will also be provided with tents and sleeping bags, the Department of Integration has said.

Starting this week, the department’s International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) will likely start having to turn away some asylum seekers due to a lack of beds.

It will be the second time this year asylum seekers have had to sleep rough due to the State’s inability to accommodate them.

“It is likely that we will run out of accommodation for everyone seeking International Protection (IP) in the next number of days,” Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said over the weekend.


This will likely apply to single adult men at first. Several measures are being put in place to aid those who cannot be accommodated, the Government has said.

These include planned additional payments, beyond the standard €38 per week payment provided to asylum seekers, for those left without accommodation.

On Monday, the Department said “drop-in day services” will also be provided where unhoused asylum seekers can access hot showers, meals and laundry services. These centres will also provide tents and sleeping bags if needed and will open seven days a week.

The Department said it has agreement with two charities to operate these services in Dublin.

All IP applicants who arrive during an “unaccommodated period” will be assessed by IPAS and the HSE “for significant vulnerabilities and health issues, and prioritised for accommodation as necessary”.

Rough sleepers will also be given information on accessing health and other public services, as well as contact details for IPAS for when accommodation does become available.

The Department said it will work closely with the HSE “to ensure that health services are provided to all those in need”.

Over the weekend, 107 asylum seekers were provided with accommodation, and none were turned away.

The Department is currently providing accommodation to 100,000 people, including 74,000 fleeing Ukraine and 26,000 IP applicants.

“Despite intensive efforts to source emergency accommodation, the Department is currently not in a position to provide accommodation to all international protection applicants due to the severe shortage.”

Amid cold and icy conditions over the weekend, there are also fears that unaccommodated asylum seekers could find themselves vulnerable as tensions remain in the aftermath of last week’s riots in Dublin and an attack on and burning of a tent in the city centre earlier this year.

It is understood there are concerns within Government regarding the safety of foreign nationals who are forced to sleep rough, in light of last week’s riots which were instigated by far-right, anti-immigrant groups. During the riots, some former and still-operating accommodation centres for asylum seekers were targeted and vandalised.

Tánaiste Michael Martin also warned that shortages of accommodation for asylum seekers are likely to continue. Mr Martin told journalists that it “is not that simple” to provide housing “overnight” for refugees and asylum seekers. He said that “asylum seeking has increased fivefold compared to the position 2018 and 2019. So the figures are quite significantly different.”

He said that combined with the housing shortage and the international migration patterns “there will continue to be challenges. That’s the reality of what we’re dealing with.”

He said that many countries were experiencing similar pressures. Mr Martin added that there were further accommodation options due to come on stream. “We’re not looking at a full exhaustion [of supply],” he said, but declined to give any precise timescale. “The situation is challenging, we have about 100,000 Ukrainians, 70-odd thousand of which we are accommodating via the state and about 26,000 international protection asylum seekers,” he said.

Mr Martin said that the Government had not yet agreed on changes to the conditions for refugees from Ukraine

Lucky Khambule, co-founder of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), said that last week’s riots in Dublin was an indication of the extremes people will go to “to destroy other people”.

“What chance do people have, who are in the streets, who are in the tents, who are not monitored, not managed ... we can end up in the situation of people burnt alive in their tents,” Mr Khambule told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Khambule said it was a “minimum requirement” that the State provide accommodation for asylum seekers.

“We have seen this earlier in the year, April, May, the way the Government did not provide any accommodation for the people that are new, coming into the country,” he said.

Mr Khambule accused the Government of a “lack of effort” in securing buildings that might be used to house asylum seekers ahead of the winter period.

He said he did not believe the Government’s excuse of a lack of available housing stock: “We don’t buy the situation that they can’t find accommodation. We don’t buy that.”

Mr Khambule also claimed that the Government was being influenced by communities objecting to the housing of migrants in their localities – a trend being driven by the far right.

“The fact that they are allowing the fear that is imposed by the local communities – powered by the far right – to refuse people to accommodate people seeking protection in this country. We have seen it in Kerry, we are seeing it in Leitrim, for the places that were earmarked for that,” he said.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times