Asylum seekers who arrive in Ireland this weekend could be left to find their own accommodation due to a “severe shortage” of emergency housing options, the Department of Integration has said.
The department warned on Friday it had entered “an extremely difficult phase” in securing accommodation for international protection (IP) applicants and that there was “insufficient accommodation available nationwide”.
“The department may not be able to provide accommodation to all international protection applicants over the weekend due to the severe shortage,” it said in a statement. The department has faced increasing challenges in securing beds for asylum seekers in recent weeks amid growing community resistance and local opposition to new emergency accommodation.
It is understood single men who arrive into Dublin in the next 48 hours could be forced to source their own accommodation, with some ultimately sleeping rough over a weekend that is expected to be cold and icy with sleet and snow in places. Any women and children who arrive in Ireland seeking asylum over the weekend will be accommodated, a department official said.
“Intensive efforts” are being undertaken daily by staff to source emergency accommodation, however those who are not provided with accommodation will be able to attend drop-in day services, according to the department. “In such centres, IP applicants can access facilities including hot showers, meals and laundry services seven days a week,” the department said. “They also provide tents and sleeping bags, where required.”
Any IP applicants without accommodation will be provided with contact details for IPAS (International Protection Accommodation Services) and information on accessing health and other public services in Ireland, the department said. Those without housing who present to the International Protection Office will be assessed for significant vulnerability and health issues and prioritised for accommodation as necessary, it added.
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.
However, the department noted on Friday that “various issues” beyond its control “have resulted in offers not being progressed, and accommodation not be contracted, swiftly enough to meet the demand”.
Ireland is currently accommodating more than 100,000 people, including more than 74,000 Ukrainians and nearly 26,000 asylum seekers. This time last year, there were just over 18,500 asylum seekers in State accommodation, while in November 2021 there were 7,244 international protection applicants being housed.
In response to a query submitted last week, the Department of Integration said that there has been a steady increase in arrival numbers since mid-June. A total of 1,785 people seeking international protection arrived during June and July in 2023, while 2,450 arrived in September and October.
- Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date