Tented accommodation could be added to existing facilities around the country for asylum seekers to meet any possible surge, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said.
A second welcome centre for refugees will open in “the next two to three weeks” and the first tranche of refurbished accommodation — offering 500 spaces, will be handed over this week, Mr O’Gorman said on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.
Over the weekend 780 refugees and asylum seekers were accommodated at City West. No one had to spend the night at the old terminal building in Dublin Airport, Mr O’Gorman said.
He also said tented accommodation in Gormanston College will open this week, initially for 150 people, but with capacity for 350.
Mr O’Gorman said the military tents will each sleep 16 with separate showers and toilets, recreation and canteen facilities. This was a short-term measure, he added, for a week “maximum”. He said that of the 3,000 units identified for refurbishment, the first tranche of 500 places will be handed over this week.
“It had always been anticipated that Gormanston could be used at some stage given the fluidity of a wartime situation. The most recent surge in arrivals was possibly due to the recent Russian attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine. “We have responded as quickly as possible to situations where people were sleeping on floors.”
Last week, new arrivals to Ireland fleeing war in Ukraine or seeking asylum from other countries were forced to stay at the old central terminal building at Dublin Airport due to a shortage of State-provided accommodation.
The Department of Children said it had to pause the intake of new arrivals into existing State accommodation because it had run out of beds and space at Citywest and has no immediate contingency plan in place.
Some 180 refugees spent two nights in the old terminal building when the State ran out of space to accommodate them at the Citywest hotel on Wednesday and Thursday night.
Many were forced to spend two nights on the floor, with many sleeping on the clothes they brought with them.