‘It’s shambolic’: Protesters call for better treatment of asylum seekers

‘Proper accommodation alternatives’ urged for those sleeping in tents such as the men recently moved from city centre to Crooksling

Two protests took place outside Government Buildings in Dublin on Tuesday with those involved calling for better treatment of asylum seekers.

The protesters called for “proper accommodation alternatives for asylum seekers”, many of whom have been sleeping rough for a number of weeks.

Groups such as United Against Racism, Social Rights Ireland and End Direct Provision action called a joint protest outside the International Protection Office (IPO) in the evening, following a protest which took place earlier in the afternoon outside the Department of Integration.

Dee Roche, who volunteers with Social Rights Ireland, said the groups were “here to get answers as to what the policy plan is going forward about how asylum seekers will be treated”.


“Currently, it’s shambolic… They should be given accommodation at the very bare minimum and be treated with dignity and humanity.”

The group attempted to deliver a letter to the Department of Integration earlier in the afternoon but were prevented from doing so.

“As volunteers, we’ve been trying to help the men who’ve been at the IPO for the last few weeks. It’s been getting steadily worse and last weekend it came to a head,” Roche said, referring to asylum seekers who were sleeping in tents being moved out of the city centre ahead of St Patrick’s Day festivities to a tented emergency shelter at the site of a former Health Service Executive nursing home in Crooksling in southwest Dublin.

“With international focus on the city, they were moved to a place that was clearly not ready. Where they were moved to was not better, and what was so upsetting about what happened was the total disregard for them as human beings,” Roche said.

Since December, the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) said it was unable to provide accommodation to male asylum seekers. A “camp” grew up around the IPO headquarters and by last week, amid outbreaks of illness, pressure on the IPAS to find a solution and clear the camp intensified.

The Department of Children and Integration said on Sunday 150 men who had been sleeping there had been offered tented emergency shelter in Crooksling.

At least 25 tents were pitched back around the International Protection Office on Dublin’s Lower Mount Street later in the weekend.

Asylum seekers who returned to Dublin city centre, having left their tented accommodation in the Dublin mountains, described the site at Crooksling as “miserable” and “bitterly cold”. They said there was one working toilet at the site, which was “very dirty, very bad”.

The department spokesman rejected claims the only toilet was filthy and strewn with rubbish, and provided photographs he said were of shower and toilet facilities at Crooksling, in modular structures.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said: “I recognise the site in Crooksling is basic but it is significantly better than the absolute lack of basic facilities that existed at Mount Street.”

As of Tuesday morning, there are 1,323 international protection applicants without State-provided accommodation, according to new figures from the Department of Integration.

It represents an increase of 15 people without accommodation since last Friday, when the number of single male asylum seekers awaiting a bed was 1,308.

“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,” a statement from the department said.

Asylum seekers who are not provided with accommodation will receive a temporary increase of €75 to their daily expense allowance . This will increase the allowance from the current rate of €38.80 per week to €113.80 a week for eligible applicants.

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said he believed the Government’s new plan for accommodating asylum seekers was still in draft form. He said he understood the document would identify the need for six new reception centres to be developed.

The funding for the new facilities would be provided directly from the exchequer. Mr Donohoe also indicated the new plan would be on a larger scale than the arrangements in place up to now for housing asylum seekers and would also present challenges.

“One of the things we will need to engage with our country on – which this recent incident [the transfer of people to Crooksling] has demonstrated – is that we will need to provide emergency accommodation in locations and at scale in ways that will be different to how we have done it in the past.”

“We are going to be facing a choice regarding… [whether] we think it is acceptable that somebody is in a tent in our city centre, where they could be vulnerable and do not have access to security, and they do not have access to facilities. Or would we prefer to be able to have them all in a location where shelter, sanitation and security is provided. This is going to be an increasing challenge that we are going to face.

“As to whether someone should be compelled to move there or not, that is a matter for Minister O’Gorman.”

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent